Falcons School for Girls learn British Sign Language

Putney school hosts SWL MPs to celebrate introduction of British Sign Language lessons

A bill to officially recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as a language in England, Wales and Scotland is underway, and at a Putney school, BSL lessons have been introduced as a part of their life skills curriculum.

The bill aims to improve accessibility for deaf people and would see the promotion of BSL when making public service announcements.

The House of Lords is currently debating the bill, with its second reading taking place this week.

South West Londoner visited the Falcons School for Girls to speak to MPs Fleur Anderson (Putney, Roehampton & Southfields) and Sarah Olney (Richmond Park), as well as AMB Deaf Accessibility founder Feras Al-Moubayed and headmistress Sara Williams-Ryan about the bill and the reaction of the students since they started learning BSL.

See the video below for more.

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Feras Al-Moubayed
Feras Al-Moubayed
24 March 2022 10:43 pm

Hi, for those of you who do not already know me., my name is Feras Al-Moubayed, and I am co-owner of AMB Deaf Accessibility along with my brother Wael. We are enthusiastic about bringing British Sign Language (BSL) into schools. We have experienced many challenges in life. I was born in Kuwait and lost my hearing at the age of two and then moved to Syria. In both those countries, the education system was poor and there was no sign language in school for me to access learning. I understood little of what was happening around me and could not communicate very well.

My life changed when I arrived in the UK at the age of nine. I was taught BSL and although it was difficult to learn a new language, it was one I could access fully so for the first time in my life I thrived. I could finally express myself and make friends. I went on to get a degree and due to the positive impact BSL had on my life, I wanted to pass on the opportunity of learning it to the next generation of both hearing and deaf children, in the hope that it will enrich their prospects in life as it has mine.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021, when I contacted almost 200 schools, offering British Sign Language (BSL) starter sessions. The first positive response was from Mrs Sara Williams-Ryan, Headteacher at Falcons School for Girls in Putney. I imagined that I would be invited to provide BSL sessions for a few weeks, but I was mistaken. She invited me to stay for the full academic year and what is more to teach every year group in the school weekly on Thursdays. BSL was put firmly on the school curriculum and the plan is for me to continue offering BSL lessons in the next academic year.

The children are now communicating with each other in BSL in their lessons and in the playground. The children have increased Deaf Awareness and it has been a pleasure to witness them breaking down societal barriers by recently meeting with Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children as part of a new inter-school partnership. The children will be able to meet and learn from each other and make new friends. The children will have the opportunity to break down barriers and learn that hearing and deaf people do not exist in isolation to each other but are part of one world.

On Thursday 10th March, MPs Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) and Fleur Anderson MP (Putney, Roehampton, and Southfields), visited the school to observe a BSL lesson. They both agreed that watching the children communicate in sign language emphasised to them how important it is that Rosie Cooper MP Private Members Bill, which has its third reading in The House of Commons, on Friday 18th March 2022, passes into law. If this happens British Sign Language will have official recognition as a language of England, Wales, and Scotland. MPs are being encouraged to vote in support of the Bill. It is reassuring to know that The Deaf Community have a strong voice in Westminster and hopefully other MPs will realise the significance of this Bill becoming an Act of Parliament.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in this journey so far. In time these initial changes will hopefully make a significant difference in wider society as other schools adopt BSL in their curriculum.

If you would like to find out more about the BSL sessions, I offer or how your school can get involved please contact me and I will be happy to help.

Maddy KC
Maddy KC
24 March 2022 10:55 am

This is great!

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