Language programme ‘must come to forefront of education’ - mayor

Ali Pennington has launched a Makaton tutoring service. Picture: Joe Malik

Ali Pennington has launched a Makaton tutoring service. Picture: Joe Malik - Credit: Archant

Weston-super-Mare could become a Makaton-friendly town, providing enough businesses get on board with the scheme.

Ali Pennington has set up a tutoring service aimed at individuals keen to learn the communication tool.

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate.

It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech in spoken word order.

Makaton is accessible to all, including those with hearing impairments and learning difficulties, and aids communication by providing extra clues about what someone is saying.

Its symbols are widely used in public buildings such as schools, hospitals, courts and libraries to help people find their way around.

An online petition to add Makaton to the national curriculum has received more than 12,300 signatures.

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Ali told the Mercury: "Makaton can be so useful to businesses and community services, so it would be great to get more people on board.

"The ultimate aim would be to make Weston Makaton-friendly and you need to get 44 businesses signed up in order to achieve this.

"Its benefits are becoming more apparent by helping all its users access more businesses and public services.

"A lot of people use Makaton in their daily lives without even knowing it."

Ali has been using the language tool for more than 20 years in schools across the UK and is now a qualified tutor.

She works at Mendip Green Primary School, in Worle, which is Makaton-friendly, and also provided inclusive signed story-telling and craft sessions at Big Worle during the Easter holidays.

A taster session was held in Weston where professionals and the town's mayor and mayoress, Mike and Margaret Lyall, received certificates.

Cllr Lyall said: "Makaton is a subject which must come to the forefront of education.

"The session was very enjoyable and interesting, the whole community would benefit from attending and learning more about it."

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