Mike Hill (labour MP for Hartlepool), pictured with Anita Duffy (Specialist Teaching Assistant at Sunnyside Academy)
Mike Hill paid a visit to Sunnyside Academy in south Middlesbrough on Friday 15th June. The reason for Mike’s visit was to promote BSL being taught in educational settings throughout the UK.
Anita Duffy (a Hartlepool resident) works as a Specialist Teaching Assistant supporting deaf children who attend the academy. Anita, who is profoundly deaf, received a letter from the Houses of Parliament recently regarding the ongoing campaign to support a GCSE qualification in British Sign Language.
Mike witnessed outstanding teaching environments for deaf children using BSL and also observed the youngsters accessing the curriculum regardless of their hearing impairments. Mike also enjoyed a leisurely lunch whilst in the company of the pupils.
Sunnyside is a mainstream school. It holds six communication bases, a base for children with visual impairment and two higher needs bases. It also offers an excellent setting for the children living in the local community.
Sunnyside Academy is UNIQUE!
Anita, a long standing UNISON member, is an ambassador for all the children at Sunnyside. She states; “All children have the right to achieve their full potential”
Statistics show that over 11 million people in the UK have some form of deafness, so why are we not teaching BSL?
Foreign languages are taught in schools and academies in the UK so why is a GCSE in BRITISH Sign language being denied?
Nurseries are now realising that using signs, expressions and gestures are aiding our young generation to become more confident communicators. Before speech is formed children are able to express meaning and understanding through BSL and this could then support them to suppress anger, frustration and a host of other behaviour difficulties caused by being unable to communicate. BSL should be taught from an early age.
The year 6 pupils at Sunnyside gave Mike a petition from all the pupils, staff and visitors at the academy to hand deliver to Parliament. The older children wrote extremely strong letters containing statements promoting this worthwhile campaign for a GCSE to be taught in BSL.
“ALL children sign at Sunnyside, SO! Follow our example, BSL should be a credited GCSE!”
UNISON Convenor for Middlesbrough Schools and Academies