A pupil at Minster Primary School has won a special award from the Kent Deaf Children’s Society (KDCS), with a separate award for his Communication Support Worker who provides him with one-to-one sign language support.
In a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, Oliver Case collected the Educational Achievement Award, with KDCS Chair Louise Henley saying: “When selecting the winner for this award the trustees were looking for someone who has gained a significant achievement within an educational context and this is where Oliver’s quote shone out to myself and the trustees.
“We were struck by the strength of Oliver’s character to undertake the challenge of starting school. This is a huge step for any child, however when you are deaf it can be an extremely challenging environment.
“Oliver has shown how making the best of it, accepting adjustments, working with his teachers and support workers has enabled him to flourish in a school environment. His deafness hasn’t held him back and he has made it work for himself. At his age this truly is humbling and inspirational.”
Communication Support Worker Sam Fry was highly commended in the Professional of the Year category.
The awards were reinstated by the KDCS for the first time following a temporary suspension due to the pandemic.
Oliver’s mum, Genevieve Case, said: “I am so proud of Oliver’s achievement but the progress he has made wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the school, his teacher of the deaf, speech and language therapist and Mrs Fry, in particular.
“This highlights how a deaf child can thrive in a mainstream school. Minster Primary School has really adapted and worked so hard to accommodate him – and as a result, he’s excelling in many aspects of his education.”
Mrs Fry said: “Oliver has been an absolute dream to work with since he started at Minster Primary School. He settled in quickly and he is very popular amongst his peers.
“Oliver has a good support network in and outside of school and he could sign before starting school which is great.
“In school, I have been trusted to deliver an alternative way of teaching Oliver in a way that is more accessible for him. I teach an alternative phonics scheme which is more suited to hearing-impaired children as well as teaching Cued Articulation which aids speech production. Sometimes you have to differentiate in order to be inclusive as children learn in different ways.
“Sign-supported English is used in the classroom alongside the main teaching and this has enabled other children to pick up signing very quickly.
“Hopefully, by the time Oliver leaves to go to secondary school there will be a whole year group that will be proficient in signing.”
Mrs Fry said all staff have had deaf awareness training and the children in Oliver’s class all have their own sign names.
She added: “It is so rewarding to be able to watch Oliver have a two-way signed conversation with a friend in what could potentially be a very isolating world.
“Deaf children can achieve in mainstream schools if the right resources and support is available. The fact that Oliver is achieving despite the barriers that he faces is incredible.”