Language & Communication


Bilingualism is an approach to teaching Deaf children that uses both British Sign Language (BSL), the language of the Deaf community, and English, the language of the hearing community. We value these languages equally and want our children to be competent in both.


Every child at Frank Barnes has the opportunity to study and use BSL. As well as supporting their language acquisition, BSL allows all deaf children and adults to communicate easily with each other and forms part of their Deaf identity. We want our children to be bilingual so that they are comfortable in both deaf and hearing communities.

Our children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) start using BSL naturally, at a very early age. This enables them to develop age-appropriate language skills, the EYFS Curriculum and National Curriculum levels of attainment, as they move through the school. We provide a language rich environment, which means our children can become equally fluent in both BSL and English.


Our English curriculum is designed to meet statutory requirements – and the particular needs of our children. It is taught as a second language using a very structured approach across the school. We know how important it is for children to be able to switch between BSL and English and match their use of language to suit different audiences and situations.

Speech and Language Support

We provide regular opportunities for children to develop their English skills through language programmes delivered by Teachers of the Deaf and Speech and Language Therapists.

The range of therapy offered includes:

  • Developing communication and language through play
  • Focusing on specific aspects of communication in small groups, paired or individual sessions
  • ‘Live English’ where deaf children learn skills and strategies to communicate successfully with hearing people (using English, Sign Supported English, or BSL, depending on the child’s needs).


Our children are actively encouraged to wear, use and maintain their hearing aids and cochlear implants daily. The school also maintains strong links with audiology clinics and is supported by an Educational Audiologist. Most of our children have some residual hearing and use different types of hearing aids and cochlear implants. We ensure that the children have the opportunity to develop the best use of their hearing in order to communicate and to support their learning and development.

We work with audiological centres and companies to get the right amplification for the children. Our educational audiologist manages the children’s hearing aids and auditory programmes. Children at Frank Barnes School have daily checks undertaken by the class teacher or designated teaching assistant. The daily checks ensure that problems are identified quickly and acted upon with minimal delay.

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