Above: Students during Level 1 Online Workshops
Left: Amanda Tayler, Course leader, BA (hons) Early Childhood Studies (FT), Staffordshire University.
In early 2020 we engaged with Makaton Tutor Amanda Glennon from Inclusive Teaching Matters to deliver Makaton to our students on Campus. This was so beneficial we wanted to offer to this to students in 2021, however with a lockdown in place we had to be a little bit creative and decided to move to online training. During February, Amanda and a team of Makaton tutors delivered a mammoth month of online level 1 Makaton training for our Education and Early Childhood Studies students at Staffordshire University. And what a month!
The students have been overwhelmingly positive about their training, commending everything from the smooth organisation of the sessions, the tutors knowledge and teaching strategies used. As we were in lockdown, many of our students had their own children with them who also took part in some of the sessions, parents have stated that their children very much enjoyed it too and have been practicing it since.
This training forms an important part of how we build future educators here at Staffs, irrespective of which part of the education sector they choose to work in. Having a toolkit of extra skills such as Makaton prepares our students for working life and helps to ensure that they can meet the needs of the individuals they will be supporting and teaching. Our students move in diverse directions after they graduate, they study for masters degrees, they become primary school teachers, others are early years practitioners whilst some are teaching assistants. Many of our students choose to work with children and/or adults with specific learning differences and needs as well as communication needs and using Makaton will be fundamental in making a difference to the lives of those individuals, but wherever they are aiming to work and study they have all stated that knowing how and when to use Makaton will enhance their practice.
We look forward to further Makaton training from Amanda and the team in the coming years.
The Makaton Tutor team hope that sharing this positive story encourages other Universities to look at opportunities to provide Makaton Training as part of their core course content.
The Makaton Tutors who collaborated to provide this training included Amanda Glennon, Kerry Cawley, Kirsty Stanger, Jemma Sagar and Corrine Lloyd (Top – Bottom Left to Right)
All Tutors involved thought it was lovely to be a part of something that could potentially have such a large reach. Students from this course are likely to go on to work in a variety of different settings, hopefully embedding Makaton into their practice and inspiring others to do the same. We were all grateful for the opportunity to be involved in this collaboration, as training of this scale is likely to be of great benefit to the Makaton Community and it was such a great opportunity for the students to have this supported by the University.
Amanda Glennon: Makaton Ambassador & IT Matters CIC – When Staffs contacted me again this year the challenge was training such a high number of students online. I reached out for support from four other Makaton tutors – all with their own experiences in Early Years and was delighted we could work together to deliver this mammoth month of training.
Corrine Lloyd: Makaton Tutor - It was great to hear between module 1 and 2 that participants had already implemented Makaton in their home and place of work, with one participant telling me how her 2-year-old had started using a handful of signs spontaneously. This same participant was keen to continue her Makaton journey as she realises its benefits and hopes to use Makaton within her dream job as a Play Therapist.
Kerry Cawley: Makaton Ambassador- One of the participants said that she had used Makaton effectively in her role as a carer for an elderly person in between attending the sessions for the Workshop. The person was often difficult to put to bed and was deaf. No other members of staff knew how to sign. The person attending the Level 1 used the sign bed to indicate that it was time for her to go to bed - and she went to bed without any problem at that time
Jemma Sagar: Makaton Tutor - I have loved being a part of the team delivering to the students. I have done a degree in Early Years myself and know how useful Makaton will be to the students in their future careers
Kirsty Stanger: Makaton Tutor - From one of the students: Just wanted to give you a little feedback. I had my first session yesterday with Kirsty. Well, it was just amazing! The amount we learned is phenomenal and I’m really looking forward to the second session. We were given a 30 day free trial for the Makaton website. It’s an amazing opportunity and we’re really lucky as students to be offered such an amazing course for free so thank you for organising that for us.
It is going to improve communication in so many ways in SEN and in mainstream schooling.