Woodlands School

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Communication Support and Development

At Woodlands we embrace the value of a child's voice.  Our intention is to facilitate effective communication for every child through a number of methods of support.

We support children to develop their voice through individualised activities such as intensive interaction and theraplay techniques designed to support communicative intent and reinforce turn taking skills. 

Functional communication is supported by the use of the voice,  signing and use of symbols / words.  Children are supported to use assistive technology through a variety of methods,  such as recordable books, PECS,   multi step switches, iPads and eyegaze. 

If you would like more information about your child's particular method of communicating,  we are always happy to support you,  just get in touch. 

Sign Language

At Woodlands, we use several sign languages to support our pupils. 

Makaton - this is used as basic learning support as part of a total communication approach.

British Sign Language - for pupils who have been identified as having a severe hearing impairment.

On-body signing - this is for pupils with multi-sensory impairment. The techniques, which combines traditional signs with touch, helps our young people learn to accept communication as well as use it on others.

Makaton is designed to support spoken language - signs, symbols and speech are used to help children and adults to communicate. Signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order. Using signs can help children who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Symbols can be used to support communication in many different ways. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to, sign.

Makaton is very flexible and can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choice and emotions,
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places,
  • take part in games and songs,
  • listen to, read and tell stories,
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists,
  • write letters and messages,
  • help people find their way around public buildings.

You can use this interactive tool to learn a few words in Makaton.  We are also making our own videos to help each other learn the full vocabulary.

BSL is a complete language which is used by deaf people in the UK. It is a language of the hands, body and face and it uses space in order to convey meaning. It is a highly visual language and it has developed over many hundreds of years to meet the needs of deaf people when they interact with each other.

You can find out more about BSL by accessing these links.



On-body signing is also used in school, sometimes following Canaan Barrie sign vocabulary. Staff at the school have also adapted signs from British Sign Language to give auditory and tactile feedback to the child; signs are made on, or close to the child whenever possible.  The link below is for an information leaflet which gives a good overview and provides a few basic signs. 

Body signing pdf