PRIMARY school headteachers are being urged to roll out sign language lessons to all of their pupils in a bid to improve standards.

Debbie Reynolds, who runs the School of Sign, Blackburn, said that children without hearing impediments who learn British Sign Language improve their literacy skills.

And the headteacher at St Paul’s RC Primary School, Blackburn who has trialled her Seen to be Heard Primary Sign programme said it was having a positive impact on children’s listening and speaking in the classroom. Debbie, who is hard of hearing, developed the scheme as 85 per cent of deaf children now attend mainstream school.

She said: “It is a new skill for hearing children to learn. It is a life skill and helps with literacy and learning. Learning sign language uses both sides of the brain and improves learning by 90 per cent. It is extremely good for for building confidence and self esteem.”

Primary Sign is interactive software that enables teachers who have no sign language training to teach it in the classroom.

It covers 10 topics, 10 animated lessons, with 27 games and over 100 handouts linked to the topics. The programme has also been shortlisted for a top education award.

Seen to be Heard UK Ltd has been nominated for the Best Special Education Resource involving ICT category at the Education Resource Awards .

Headteacher Catherine Mona-ghan, of St Paul’s RC Primary School, Feniscowles, said: “Primary Sign is highly interactive and fully inclusive for children with special needs or even gifted and able children from reception to year six.”

Ray Barker, director of the British Educational Suppliers Association, said: “The awards aim to test and identify the best resources available to today’s schools and classrooms.

“At a time when schools are being given more freedom to use their professional judgement to organise learning as they see fit, the awards play an increasingly important role in helping to identify products that make a real difference to education.”