Last Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2022

Engaging parents in language learning – Moorfoot Primary School and Garvel Deaf Centre – Inverclyde Council

What is this?

This practice exemplar explains how one primary school used British Sign Language (BSL) to engage parents in their children’s learning, improve communications across the whole school and engage with the wider deaf community.

Who is this for?

British Sign Language (BSL) - Toolkit for PractitionersThis exemplar will be useful for practitioners across all sectors and in the community who work with hearing and deaf pupils and families.

Explore this resource

What was done?

Over the last few years, all children have been taught BSL from the commencement of their nursery placement through to Primary 7.  This was with a view to improving communications and relationships amongst all pupils.

As children shared their learning about BSL at home with their parents and families, it was identified that they too were interested in learning this and knowing more about deaf culture.  Arrangements were put in place for adults to learn BSL free of charge.  These sessions are run by a BSL Tutor and are supported by parents of deaf pupils from Garvel Deaf Centre.  Outreach classes are held in a community setting for any parents or families who are unable to travel to the school.

British Sign Language has been incorporated and is celebrated across the school including at assemblies, concerts and the school blog.

Deaf and hearing pupils lead BSL classes for their peers and for staff in the school.


Developing positive relationships and involving all parents in their children’s learning and the wider life of the school is central to raising attainment.

Parents and families were keen to learn BSL to enable them to better communicate with their hearing/deaf children, deaf parents and deaf teachers in the school and engage with the wider deaf community.

What was the impact?

The school is able to evidence:

  • Increased parental engagement in children’s learning amongst hearing and deaf parents and their families
  • P7 Pupils are presented for a Level 1 SQA qualification in British Sign Language
  • Parents feel listened to and involved in the wider life of the school and community
  • Greater access to deaf adults, deaf peers and deaf role models both in school and across Scotland
  • Communications between parents and their children has improved relationships and reduced frustration and anxiety at home
  • Greater deaf awareness and a shared understanding amongst hearing parents, families and pupils
  • Improved communications with hearing parents of deaf children, deaf parents of hearing children and deaf parents of deaf children
  • Parents are regularly accessing and engaging with the online workshops on the school’s learning blog
  • Improved relationships and friendships between hearing and deaf children
  • Improved children’s experiences of school and learning.
  • Increased appetite amongst pupils to learn about different cultures and how to sign in other languages eg French and Spanish
  • Closer working with cluster secondary school
  • Greater links with the wider community and partnerships with national deaf organisations
  • Parents having continued their learning and progressed to qualifications in British Sign Language
  • Parents of hearing children using British Sign Language as part of their job to communicate with members of the community

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

The exemplar along with the reflective questions can be used to help practitioners consider their own approach to involving and engaging BSL users in their setting/school.  You are invited to read the exemplar and then consider, individually or as a team, the following reflective questions.

Reflective questions

  • How effectively do you support all parents and families to participate in and engage with their child’s learning?
  • In what ways do you currently engage BSL families in your setting/school?
  • Are there specific barriers preventing BSL families from engaging with your setting/school and/or their child’s learning? If so, how are these being addressed?
  • Do all parents have regular opportunities to contribute to the improvement journey and the wider life of the setting/school?