I work mostly in School however, I cover College too, therefore I work Academy wide. I teach BSL and Deaf studies which are both vitally important, as the students are Deaf and they are signing every day.
Identity is vital for the students to be able to understand who they are and to be proud to be Deaf. Knowledge of their history, background and causes of deafness all supports the students to establish their identity, to be proud and to connect with Deaf and hearing people.
Sign language qualifications provide the students with confidence, allowing them to use their first language, their everyday language or both with our support.
All students from year 7 to 11 learn Deaf Studies which is essential for children to understand concepts of Deaf identity and how they relate to it themselves. They also learn about Deaf history encompassing sign language and its heritage. Students learn about Deaf issues and events and how these are relevant to their own lives and those of other Deaf people they may meet in the future. An important element of the curriculum is celebrating sign language and its differences and associated culture so that students understand what it means to be a Deaf person. We teach sign language and help children to understand the different qualification levels available for them to achieve. For example, a student may be able to study for their BSL Level 1, Level 2 or even Level 3 qualification.
By the end of year 11 we aim for all students to achieve their Level 2 BSL qualification before they leave school because this is equivalent to a GCSE A-C Grade.
In the BSL classes students learn the skills they need to progress through their BSL level 1, level 2, level 3 and potentially further language qualifications. There are also additional qualifications as part of the course. For example we have created our own Deaf studies elements encompassing Deaf identity, culture and history. From this we are able to reflect on history and information from the past and see how this relates to Deaf people and their heritage. This enables students to explore what their language and culture means to them and how they can make sense of their own Deaf identity. For us it's important to support students to understand their Deaf identities, be proud of themselves and prepare them for their future.