Pre-school achieves a first for Thornbury

May 02 2019
Pre-school achieves a first for Thornbury

A PRE-school has become the first business in Thornbury to become a certified member of the Makaton Friendly Scheme.

Makaton is a form of communication which uses signs and symbols alongside speech. The friendly scheme is run by the Makaton Charity, and aims to recognise businesses and organisations that it.

First Step Pre-school, based at Christ the King primary school in Easton Hill Road, had to show that it could provide a supportive and welcoming environment to people with communication or learning difficulties, and that Makaton signs and symbols helped children and adults find their way around the building.

Marie Collins, from the pre-school, said: “I have seen how quickly the children aged between two and four can pick up the signs and how much enjoyment and pride they get from learning Makaton. The children then go home and share what they have learned with their parents, spreading Makaton knowledge even further.”

The popularity of Makaton is growing, with CBeebies recently broadcasting two Makaton bedtime stories. However, it’s not to be confused with British Sign Language, which is officially recognised by government as a minority language and used by around 145,000 people in the UK.

Marie said: “Makaton is a great way to communicate with children with various communication issues such as delayed speech, English as an additional language or conditions such as Down Syndrome or Autism. However, we use Makaton with the whole group teaching useful signs, singing songs and telling stories.”

The initiative within the preschool started out with an intention to train four staff. But the trainer from the Makaton Charity, Nicola Pike, encouraged the management team to go further.

Nicola said: “I’m absolutely delighted that First Step preschool is the first organisation in the Thornbury area to gain Makaton Friendly status.”

It reflects their hard work and dedication, and I hope that they will inspire many more organisations to do the same.

My hope is that Thornbury will become a Makaton Town, living in or visiting a place that highly values all forms of communication would be incredible.”