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Primary School

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At Westmorland we use a ‘key word’ signing system called Makaton. This means that when we are talking we try to use signs to ‘highlight’ the most important words in a sentence. Signs are only ever used alongside talking and encourage the children’s attention and listening, understanding, speech production and confidence. (You may have heard about Makaton before from Mr Tumble on cbeebies!)

Makaton signs are used by teachers in the classroom as signing at the same time as talking helps  all children to remember and understand what has been said. Children find it easier to learn, remember and use new words if they learn the sign at the same time. Some children will also use the sign themselves alongside their talking to help develop their confidence and communication skills.


We are really excited to be using the ‘Shine and Shine’ package developed at Adswood Primary and our very own ‘Funnics’. Both of these programmes use Makaton signs to help children to learn about sounds (phonics) and support the development of reading. The children are really enjoying this fun, visual and active way of learning and some children are beginning to read because of this support.    The results of the year 1 phonics screening check are also improving year on year!


You might also see the Makaton symbols (These are pictures) displayed around school. We use them to help children and visitors find their way around school but they also have lots of uses in the classroom e.g for visual timetables and to help children learn and write stories. Teachers are also using Makaton symbols to  help children understand new words and concepts.


One of the highlights of our week in school (both staff and children!) is the Friday afternoon singing and signing assembly.  We all have great fun learning the signs for lots of different  songs (current pop songs and a few golden oldies!). We have found that this is the best way for everyone to learn a huge amount of signs that they can then be using in their classrooms.


If you are interested in finding out more about Makaton or learning some of the signs that your children are using then ask your child’s class teacher about joining in on the next Makaton parent session. You can also visit for information and free downloads etc.