Fairfield High School (FHS) has set up a club in response to the increasing student appetite to learn British Sign Language (BSL). This mirrors the natural trend and Rose’s success in Strictly Come Dancing, as searching for the phrase ‘sign language’ has increased by a staggering 488%. In conjunction with Elmfield School for Deaf People, which is based on the FHS site, students come together for a fun, interactive and educational experience, with numbers increasing week on week.
Sophie Cockram, Communication Support Worker at FHS is helping drive this initiative, due to her own passion for learning BSL from a young age:
“We’re very impressed with the interest this club has created. To see both Fairfield and Elmfield students come together to learn a new language, communicate, build confidence and form new friendships is a real pleasure. Each session consists of an interactive game to recap on the previous week’s topics before learning a new topic and putting these words into sentences.”
As evident from the students’ quotes below, not only are students expanding their knowledge for longevity reasons, benefits are immediate, as a number of their classes and assemblies include a mix of students from both FHS and Elmfield. Furthermore it is hoped that from next term, Elmfield students will take the ownership and responsibility for running the club themselves.
Sophie further explains her aspirations for this growing club:
“Many people know the BSL alphabet, but to know the language in more depth with its associated linguistics becomes far more complicated. It will be exciting to see how much the young people have learnt by the end of the year; I’m also looking into the opportunity of them gaining a Level 1 qualification. I’ve always been fascinated by sign language and would have jumped at the chance of a similar club when I was at school.”
“I am here to make deaf people feel seen instead of ignored.”
“I am in this club because I have three deaf friends and if they need my help I want to be there for them.”
“I like coming so I can learn something new and be able to communicate with people who can’t hear me. I also really enjoy the games we play. My goal is to become fluent in BSL.”
“I like to play games/signing. I really like learning it. It’s my fave club. It’s really fun to learn it.”
“I come to BSL club because I really want to communicate with everyone. I enjoy the fact that we have different topics to focus on each week and can ask questions, unlike watching YouTube. I really want to be able to be fluent so this club will help me on my way.”