John Jamieson School

"Students are enthusiastic about learning and, overall, their behaviour is outstanding". - Ofsted 2012

Makaton

What is Makaton?

At the East SILC we use Makaton signing. Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to support children and adults who have difficulties with learning and communication. The signs are derived from British Sign Language with some simplifications so that they are easier to do and easier to understand. Makaton provides people with extra clues as to what is being said by using signs (gestures). It is used in mainstream and specialist settings to support and promote communication skills, and can be used at all ages. Today over a 100,000 people use Makaton to support their communication. 

Some individuals may only need to use Makaton temporarily; others will use it as a lifelong communication system. It is used to support individuals to develop and use speech to express wants, feelings, thoughts and preferences. We, as communication partners, always speak and sign to provide learners with a clear language model. Makaton may also be used as an alternative means to speech for those with no speech, or to support individuals with unclear speech (intelligbility difficulties), and/or those reluctant to communicate verbally or using other means (e.g. symbols).   It can be used to support those who have difficulties with:
  • Understanding of language
  • Expression
  • Social interaction
  • Attention and listening
  • Literacy

Makaton is very flexible and can be used to:
  • Share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • Label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • Take part in games and songs
  • Listen to, read and tell stories
  • Create recipes, menus, shopping lists
  • Write letters and messages
  • Help people find their way around public buildings
The Makaton vocabulary has a core vocabulary set of 450 words, signs and symbols. This has been developed and organised into stages that reflect natural vocabulary development. This provides a structure for teaching Makaton vocabulary, but it should also be taught in a way that reflects individual preferences and needs. Stage 1 contains the most basic, commonly used everyday words. As you move through the stages the concepts become more abstract and, therefore, more difficult to understand. There is, in addition to the core vocabulary, a further resource vocabulary of 7000+ concepts. This is always being developed and extended. The further resource vocabulary is topic-based (e.g. people, vehicles, animals, food and drink, National curriculum etc.). The Makaton Charity also frequently releases new resources on their website related to current and special events (e.g. Christmas, Wimbledon, Elections, Chinese New year etc.). 

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