Yeoman Park Academy’s communication lead has set out his plan for the next academic year and is targeting Makaton accreditation for the academy in the next 12 months.

Aaron Hughes was appointed as the communications lead in January after previously being a teacher at the academy, together with specialising in ASD (autism spectrum disorder) communication and teaching English as a second language in Brazil. He is responsible for planning and running schemes of work to help further develop student’s communication and language skills, alongside working toward this important accreditation.

Makaton is already used at the academy with most staff now trained in how to use the sign language, but Aaron would like to see this expanded further.

He said: “We use Makaton incidentally throughout the day to enhance spoken communication – signs and symbols are a part of our daily practice. Our ambition now is to become a ‘Makaton friendly’ academy, so we’re working hard towards achieving this accreditation.”

Understanding the individual needs of our students is a priority for Aaron, which he believes will help make sure their voices are heard by any means possible.

He explains: “Not only is self-expression a fundamental human right, but it is a key life skill that can lead to greater independence in adulthood. The root of any human behaviour is an attempt to communicate and we use this philosophy at the academy to inform our lesson planning.”

Aaron will work with speech and language providers, as well as class teachers, support staff and parents to ensure there is a joined-up approach to the academy’s work on communication.

Students will work on their expressive communication such as speaking, receptive communication such as listening and comprehension, as well as the skills of reading and writing. They will continue to use ALS boards, eye-gazers and other forms of assisted communication dependent on their needs.

Used to sunnier climes, Aaron taught English as a second language in Brazil for four years but since returning he’s cared for his autistic sister and has gone on to specialise in ASD communication.