Schools first to sign on

Inaugural classes for the sign language of the Australian deaf community will be taught in Years 5 to 8 from next year.

Shenton will provide the primary school with staff and the curriculum structure, which will be heavily borrowed from the American Sign Language curriculum taught in the US.

Shenton principal Michael Morgan said the school already had sufficient numbers to run one Year 8 class and would investigate running a second to meet demand.

‘For us, it brings huge value when you know you are being far more inclusive, appreciative and respectful of a community that plays a significant part not only within WA, but also Shenton College,’ Mr Morgan said.

‘The real power in this is when you see in the faces of the (deaf) students that their language is valued.’

Auslan was recognised by the Federal Government as a community language in 1987 and is currently used by about 15,000 Australians.

Mr Morgan said Shenton College and the attached Deaf Centre were keen to introduce the subject as a way to increase their partnership since the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority recognised it in November 2011.

‘We’re proud to be the first school to do it nationally because of our positioning with a deaf school on site,’ he said.

‘The students have a passive understanding because of solid friendships that have been formed (between deaf and hearing students).’

Shenton College Deaf Centre acting principal Leanne Potter said formalising Auslan would immerse hearing students who studied the subject in an environment where they could actively use their skills, as well as allow for deaf students to learn the linguistics of their own language, as students learn grammar in English.

Editor’s note:

Shenton College Deaf Centre acting principal Leanne Potter:

“I have been involved in teaching Auslan in some schools on and off for some time. I ran Auslan classes in 1987 at Swanbourne SHS. However they were lunch time classes or special interest classes that did not have the backing or ratification of a National Curriculum Authority. ACARA ratified  Auslan as a LOTE in November 2011. It was an announcement by Pater Garratt from the previous Labor Government.

“Today I found out that some deaf settings in Melbourne were running Auslan Courses in 2004 onwards and I’m aware TAFE teaches Auslan Australia wide at Cert 1-4 levels to adults. However both these examples do not come under the ACARA banner in schools.

“As far as I know the 4 Shenton and Mosman Park co-located hearing and Deaf schools are the first to run officially under the National Curriculum banner.”