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Teenager helps introduce sign language classes at Dereham high school

PUBLISHED: 17:28 15 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:29 15 April 2015

Jade Chapman, left, with her sister Laura. Picture: Ian Burt

Jade Chapman, left, with her sister Laura. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

A teenager’s bid to make “sign shine” has taken a step forward with sign language classes under way at a Norfolk high school.

Jade Chapman, from Dereham, launched her Let Sign Shine campaign because she was worried that people with hearing difficulties, including her profoundly deaf younger sister Laura, could become socially isolated if they are unable to communicate or understand spoken conversations.

She initially wrote to her MP George Freeman, and received a reply from children’s minister Edward Timpson in June, saying work had begun to develop a GCSE in British sign language (BSL).

The campaign also led to the 17-year-old winning the education award at last year’s Bernard Matthews Youth Awards.

Now the Dereham Sixth Form student has helped introduce sign language classes at Dereham Neatherd High School.

The classes started on Monday and are already oversubscribed.

Jade said: “After winning the Bernard Matthews Youth Award, I received £1,000 prize money and donated it to Dereham Neatherd High School in return for some sign language classes to be taught there.

“This is a big step forward for my campaign and a dream come true for me.”

A qualified BSL teacher is taking the classes at Dereham Neatherd and the lessons will run for a total of 13 weeks.

There are 20 people in the class, including support workers, teaching assistants, parents and pupils.

Jade, who is studying A-levels in business, sociology and English, said: “I’m over the moon about it and going there and seeing all 20 people doing sign language and being enthusiastic about it on Monday was amazing.”

After the 13-week scheme finishes, it is not known if the classes will continue but Jade hopes it will be a success. To find out more about Jade’s campaign and to sign her petition, go to the Let Sign Shine page on Facebook.

Are you calling for changes to the education system? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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