St Francis de Sales Centre for the Deaf
Deaf Awareness Week 1 - 7 May 2023
The St Francis de Sales Centre for the Deaf (SFDSCD) was established 21 years ago. Originally known as the Deaf Resource Base, the SFDSCD has been expanded to include bespoke, acoustically-treated classrooms and an audiology room that are all D/deaf friendly. It has seven members of staff, led by the Headteacher for the Deaf, Mr Gary Callahan-Ferris.
Mr Callahan-Ferris is a fully qualified teacher of the D/deaf and British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter who has over 25 years’ experience working professionally with D/deaf people in an educational setting. He can be contacted by email here.
As well as the Headteacher for the Deaf, the team includes:
• Senior Sensory Communication Support Worker
• Specialist HLTA for the Deaf
• Specialist TAs for the Deaf (qualified at BSL Level 2 and 3)
In addition, a Speech and Language therapist visits our D/deaf students weekly.
We use a ‘Total Communication’ approach which includes a combination of sign language along with spoken and written communication, tailored to the needs of each child.
How it works
Our D/deaf students attend lessons in the mainstream school and are supported by a Specialist Teaching Assistant.
Students also have timetabled 1:1 supported studies where they are supported by a Teacher of the Deaf and Specialist Teaching Assistants.
These lessons focus on English, Maths and reviewing topics and vocabulary for mainstream subjects.
All students have a communication book that staff complete in each lesson. This details lesson content, new vocabulary and homework so that staff can tailor the 1:1 support lessons to meet the individual needs of the student.
We encourage parents to be involved in the running of the SFDSCD and a steering group allows parents to express their views about how things are run.
Working together with mainstream students
We support inclusion, encouraging our students to integrate in the wider school. To raise awareness of the challenges faced by our D/deaf students, we also provide Deaf Awareness training for both staff and pupils.
Not everything in the St Francis de Sales Centre for the Deaf is work!
We arrange activities for both D/deaf and hearing students, for example our Signing Club offers BSL classes to both D/deaf and hearing students throughout the school.
Our D/deaf students participate in many activities outside school which helps to enrich their experience and offer new opportunities.
We also provide extra support for transition to college, university or work and actively look for work experience programmes that are D/deaf-friendly where possible.
Year 7 delivers the 'Morning Prayer' in BSL (British Sign Language)
Joining a school with a deaf resource base as vibrant and encouraging as the St Francis de Sales Centre has really highlighted the importance of inclusivity in and out of the classroom for me. I wanted our students to see BSL in all parts of their school day, which was my motivation for my tutor group to start learning to sign their prayers. My aim this year is to further integrate the use of BSL in my day-to-day lessons and that this in turn gives the students the tools and encouragement to use it outside of the classroom too.
Teacher of RE