School giving deaf children an identity

Six year old Mollie practices her signing.

Furlong Park School for Deaf Children continues to attract enrolments from far and wide.

This year more than 70 students are enrolled to take part in the Sunshine North school’s bilingual education programs.

The school follows the Victorian curriculum and teaches students Auslan (Australian sign language) as a second language.

Newly appointed principal Lee Bullock said the programs are a major step to helping the children develop communication skills.

“We follow a bilingual and bicultural model of deaf education where our students develop communication and language skills to interact with others and understand the world around them,” she said.

As many of the school’s students are born to hearing parents, Ms Bullock said the education process was a two-way street.

“Through programs and school events, families can learn how to use Auslan to support communication with their child, meet other families through our weekly community Auslan classes and learn more about the community,” she said.

“We even have some families who travel up to two hours to attend classes.”

While developing communication is important, Ms Bullock says there was another major benefit provided by the programs.

“A large amount of our staff members are deaf too, so these children get provided with the best possible role models who show them that it’s possible for them to achieve things in life,” she said.

“The deaf community in Melbourne is extremely large, so by partaking in these programs, they also develop a sense of identity within the community.”