Thornton College Achieves Makaton Friendly Status

Thornton College in Sefton has been awarded ‘Makaton Friendly Status’ by the national Makaton charity.

Thornton College, operated by Hugh Baird College in Bootle, is first college in Merseyside to achieve the status, which recognises organisations that strive to make their services accessible to people who use Makaton to aid their communication.

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

Thornton College is a specialist college dedicated to providing a caring and supportive environment for young people with learning difficulties and/or physical disabilities in the Liverpool City Region.

In 2016 the College recruited a Speech and Language Therapist, Betsy Vaudrey, to support their students and staff. Betsy, a Regional Makaton Tutor, has trained more than 80% of staff at the College in Makaton and has developed a number of activities with the students and supported staff to run a Makaton Choir.

Betsy said:

We are extremely proud to have been awarded Makaton Friendly Status. Using Makaton with all of our students improves their social skills by enabling students of different abilities to communicate with each other.

Makaton is used throughout the College, including on signage around the campus and student timetables. Staff regularly use the symbols within the classroom to support the development of literacy skills and promote independence.

Christine Snape, Director of Foundation Learning at Hugh Baird College, said:

We have witnessed the positive impact Makaton has had on our students and staff. Using Makaton opens up a world of possibility for our students and the feedback we have received from parents shows how it is making a real difference to their daily lives.

I’m delighted we’ve been awarded Makaton Friendly Status and I’d like to congratulate Betsy and the whole team at Thornton College for their dedication to our students.

To find out more about Thornton College, visit or call 0151 934 4811.

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