The Suffolk primary school which has scrapped French to teach children British Sign Language

A primary school has become one of the first to add British Sign Language to its curriculum - and teachers say the children love it.

Elm Tree Primary Academy, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, has decided to replace French and Spanish lessons with basic BSL tutoring.

Staff have been inspired by former pupil Daniel Jillings.

Born deaf, he has been a passionate campaigner for wider use of BSL and successfully fought for it to be made a GCSE subject from 2025.

His mum, Ann Jillings, now teaches BSL to all age groups at Elm Tree - and she says it has proved very popular.

She said: "I went into Asda and this little girl came charging up to me and signed; 'Good afternoon Mrs Jillings'.

"That was just perfect. That says it all really."

Ann Jillings teaching sign language at Elm Tree Primary Academy.

Elm Tree is a specialist resource base for deaf children. Four of its current pupils have hearing loss.

"Socially it can be very isolating if they don't have any signing peers," said Mrs Jillings.

"So for me it's a dream to see all the hearing peers at a school learning to sign and having that full communication."

Headteacher Julia Halliday said: "I think the reason BSL works is because of our young children that have got hearing loss.

"All of us in the Elm Tree family want to be inclusive with everybody. They're keen about it because it includes their friends."

The school is currently preparing for its Christmas carol concert, where a sign language choir will perform alongside a singing one.

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