The Deaf Support Department (DSD) is a specialist unit within Ashton CSC, providing the resources and support necessary to facilitate the inclusion of profoundly and severely deaf students into a mainstream secondary school environment. It was set up in 1990 to serve the whole of Lancashire, and we have had students travel by taxi from as far as Lancaster, Nelson and Lytham; we also have students from the Blackburn & Darwen authority. Deaf students are members of forms, have the same uniform and disciplinary code as mainstream students and are encouraged to enter fully into the life of the school.
We are the only mainstream school in the county with qualified Teachers of the Deaf who also have Sign Language qualifications. The Department is based in a dedicated rooms on the first floor of the school, which is equipped with computers; our students and staff are, however, more likely to be found in mainstream classes.
Our Teachers of the Deaf support the students in mainstream lessons, using whichever method of communication is appropriate for the child concerned. Staff ensure that lessons are delivered at a level commensurate with each student's linguistic abilities, so that they are able to understand the content and undertake set tasks (differentiated as required); in many cases lessons are signed using Sign-Supported English, in combination with oral and written methods, alongside full use of students' residual hearing. This 'Total Communication' approach ensures that every child has the fullest possible access to the mainstream curriculum.
Lessons in the Department
It is the norm for deaf students to be taught in mainstream classes, except for English and Modern Foreign Languages (although we have some pupils who study both of these in mainstream groups). For most of our students, their limited language skills mean that it is more appropriate to follow our own scheme of work, which is taught within the Department, leading to AQA Entry Level English certification. While mainstream students study Modern Foreign Languages, our students use that time to backup their work in other subjects.
The subject expertise of DSD teachers means that we are able to offer additional courses to our Year 10 and 11 students, taught within the Department. These include both GCSEs, Entry Level qualifications and other non-GCSE qualifications, and mean that deaf students have the opportunity to follow 'tailor-made' upper school courses in such subjects as ICT, Textiles and Science.
Mrs S. Sutton, G.I.Biol., D.A.S.E.H.I.C