Forward from the Woodside BSL curriculum document.
In 2020, as a school we decided to make the move to BSL after many years of teaching different modern foreign languages in our school. The quality of teaching really depended on the skill of the teacher- often the class teacher who may not speak the language already. MFL teachers were hard to come by, let alone keep, and the language being taught jumped between French and Spanish every few years. The children in year 6 scatter to different secondary schools-often learning a language that they had not started off with in key stage 2 and losing what they had been taught.
Becoming an academy gave us the freedom to design our own curriculum and this is when we chose to replace French ( or was it Spanish? ) with BSL.
We had access to a BSL teacher through the Deaf Resource Base in one of the Trust schools and we invested in half a day a week for every child. Even during the pandemic our BSL lessons continued and the children ( and a few eager parents) joined in enthusiastically. We were all delighted when BSL face to face could restart.
Children from Reception to year 6 have half hour weekly lessons. They all engage enthusiastically and the progress has been amazing- especially considering that over half of their BSL learning has been online due to the pandemic. The progression through the stages of learning amazes me - with children learning a similar theme, yet the skills behind are so progressive- Reception learning words and joining in with songs to year 6 having simple conversations with each other. I just can not wait to see how far we can go with BSL.
As a head, and someone who did not really know much about BSL, I wanted to ensure that there was a clear progression for this subject as with all other subjects. I wanted to ensure that I could articulate what it was and after much research, discovered that because BSL is not taught in many mainstream schools this was something that was needed. Teaching BSL to hearing children was very different from teaching BSL to the Deaf. Children will spend less time and will not be using all of the time, so learning will be slower, but still needed to progress to make it worthwhile and challenging for our children.
This curriculum guidance and progression document outlines how BSL is different from most subjects and how the progression is really dependent on vocabulary acquisition as well as the ability of each individual to grasp it. Like English, Maths, art and sport different children may show different aptitudes for BSL. The progression is based on skills that the children will follow when preparing for a youth level 1 BSL qualification towards the end of key stage 2.