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Teachers at Milford Haven Primary learning sign language

Sensory Service in Pembrokeshire launches BSL lessons and deaf awareness training in schools

Gwasanaeth Synhwyraidd yn Sir Benfro yn lansio gwersi BSL a hyfforddiant ymwybyddiaeth o fyddardod mewn ysgolion

Pembrokeshire’s Sensory Service is thrilled to have successfully provided British Sign Language (BSL) lessons and deaf awareness training at several schools.

The lessons were delivered by Deaf Friendly Limited, who specialise in teaching BSL and Welsh regional signs.

This initiative was spearheaded by Catherine Davies, a former teacher of the deaf from Pembrokeshire, who worked with Partneriaeth – the regional education partnership – and leads from other counties alongside Deaf Friendly Limited.

The partnership collaborated on the project aims and secured funding for the first part of what became a tri-counties BSL project.

The vision of this project is to enable learners to communicate effectively using British Sign Language (BSL) and to promote understanding and equity across cultures and communities.

This strategic plan is guided by the Curriculum for Wales framework guidance for BSL.

The project’s priorities include building capacity within schools to deliver BSL in the Curriculum for Wales and supporting the sustainability and progression of BSL in schools.

Sensory and English as Additional Language (EAL) Team Leader Annette Thomas said: “BSL is a wonderful and complete language, and it is useful for all children to learn. It helps children as young as six months communicate with their parents and can be used right through to old age.

“It enhances communication even if the child goes on to learn other oral languages and it’s wonderful to see our schools learn BSL and embrace deaf awareness.”

The schools involved in the first phase of the project included Milford Haven CP School, Milford Haven Secondary School along with Portfield Special School, Sageston, Holy Name, Golden Grove, St Aidans and Cosheston as well as Early Years settings

It was delivered by Sarah Lawrence, the owner of Deaf Friendly Limited, with six teachers (one primary and one secondary from each local authority) participating.

The teachers learnt BSL in an immersive environment, building on successful Welsh language training models, and achieved BSL Level 2, exceeding the initial aim of achieving Level 1.

Some of those teachers are now learning BSL Level 3 and the long-term hope is that secondary school staff will continue up to Level 6, allowing them to teach learners BSL at GCSE level.

BSL training 2

Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo) Janette Reynolds at Milford Haven said: “Pupils in the summer term had a wonderful opportunity to learn BSL and this resulted in pupils recording a sign of the week which was then shared with staff and on our social media platform. 

“Staff have received training this term which was supported by the Deaf Friendly team, which has increased our understanding and knowledge. As a school we are committed to developing basic BSL over the next few years within our community.”

Cosheston and St Aidans Headteacher Kathryn Adams added: “The staff and children have loved the workshops in both schools. It has made them more aware of how they need to communicate with the children in both schools who have hearing difficulties.

“It has been invaluable for those children as it has meant that all pupils can share information using sign and it has made us even more inclusive. The Year 6 pupils love signing with one of our deaf learners now.”

For more information about this initiative, please contact Annette Thomas by email

Notes to editors

Deaf Friendly Limited is owned and run by Sarah Lawrence. Deaf through illness aged three, Sarah was born, brought up and educated in South Wales.

After leaving school and taking up employment in graphic design, Sarah set up Caerphilly based Deaf Friendly Limited in her early twenties in response to three cases of overt discrimination in the workplace.

Nearly thirty years later, Sarah is a highly accomplished BSL teacher, Deaf Awareness trainer and British Sign Language (BSL) rights campaigner.

Why BSL?

Approximately 12 million people in the UK are currently deaf or hard of hearing.

By 2025 the predictions are that there maybe around 14.2 million

. Prevalence of deafness and hearing loss - RNID

BSL is a vital life skill for the future for all.

BSL is not only a language for deaf people.

BSL Progression Steps have been designed around the new curriculum.

Teaching BSL can help achieve the four core purposes:

  • Ambitious Capable learners
  • Healthy, confident , Individuals
  • Enterprising Creative Contributors.
  • Ethical informed citizens