The Lighthouse Specialist Centre for Deaf Children offers deaf children and their families highly specialised educational provision in the inclusive mainstream school setting of Guildford Grove.

We are unique to Surrey, in that we offer sign supported communication to deaf children, mainly through Sign Supported English, but also through British Sign Language when needed.  The deaf children are full and active members of their mainstream classes, enjoying a rich and varied school curriculum, while also getting the support they need to develop their language skills.

Meeting Your Child’s Communication Needs

Deaf children can sometimes learn to communicate through speech alone, while others need a combination of speech and sign language, or purely British Sign Language.  At The Lighthouse we offer ‘Total Communication’, an approach which allows for all three of these communication methods.  This flexibility allows us to offer an entirely child-centred approach to language and communication, ensuring deaf children’s individual needs are met.

We encourage deaf children to develop their residual hearing and speech skills as much as possible, through weekly speech and language therapy sessions, learning visual phonics, and using Sign Supported English (signing with speech).  We provide radio aid systems for children who are confident hearing aid/cochlear implant users, and offer daily technical checks.

We mainly use Sign Supported English to help deaf children learn how to lip-read, speak, and read.  When they are ready to learn to read, the children learn Signed English to help support their understanding of English grammar.  Sometimes, more profoundly deaf children need to use British Sign Language.  Where appropriate, we can provide BSL to a high standard, with Deaf adults on our teaching staff acting as excellent role-models.

To support communication at home, we offer a range of information and resources to parents.  These could be in the form of picture symbols to help your child understand what is happening through the day, or to use to make requests.  We can send home sets of BSL signs to help with new topic vocabulary, signing dictionaries and topic books.  ‘Family Signing’ sessions are offered by our teaching team in consultation with you (please see further information and resources in this website’s  ‘parents’ zone’ section).

Facilities at The Lighthouse

Audiology (Listening Equipment)

All hearing aids, cochlear implant processors and brainstem implant processors are checked daily by members of the Lighthouse teaching team.  Staff training is kept up-to-date through in-house training or advisory visits.

We have soundfield systems in the school hall and two classrooms. We hope to extend the use of soundfields in all classrooms with deaf children over the next five years.

A number of deaf children at the school use Inspiro radio aid systems with MLX Roger X receivers giving direct-input to their cochlear implant processors or hearing aids.  Radio aid systems are provided in accordance with children’s EHCPs and are introduced to children using cochlear implant processors under advice from their implant centre.

All classrooms have carpets and blinds in order to improve listening conditions for deaf children.  The school dining hall and Foundation Stage classrooms have acoustic treatment panels to reduce noise reverberation.

Children with Physical Disabilities/Additional Special Educational Needs

Guildford Grove is equipped with three hoisting systems for wheelchair users in the disabled toilet, the sensory room, and the main school hall.  The whole school is wheelchair accessible with ramps and automatic doors to maximise access. We have a fully-equipped disabled toilet with changing bed and showering facilities

We have key staff trained in the use of Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) who can programme and maintain these devices for our physically disabled children who are unable to communicate fully through sign language or spoken language.

We have long-standing experience of working with deaf children who have English as an additional language, or have additional special needs such as Multi-Sensory Impairment, CHARGE Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD and deaf children with English as an additional language

    Our team has experience of training in:-

  •  Visual-Impairment
  •  Multi-Sensory Impairment
  •  Cochlear implant and hearing aid management
  •  Specialist SEN ICT packages
  •  Behaviour Support
  •  Resuscitation
  •  Manual Handling
  • Cerebral Palsy

Computer Technology

The Lighthouse uses a range of computer equipment to support the children’s learning.  Our teaching areas are equipped with interactive whiteboards and touchscreen computers. We have 4 laptops and a set of 8 iPads for use in both the Specialist Centre and mainstream classrooms.

    Computer software includes:-

  • educational Apps for iPads
  • Communicate-in-Print
  • BSL signed-graphics
  • Clicker 6

Speech and Language Therapy Room

Our purpose-build speech and language therapy room offers a quiet, distraction-free environment for pupils during their therapy sessions.  This room is also available at different points in the week for one-to-one activities such as reading or ‘booster’ sessions for learning new curriculum language and concepts.

The Sensory Room

We also have a purpose-built sensory room at the Lighthouse providing a distraction free, calm and welcoming environment to meet the sensory and physical needs of the children.

The sensory room can be adapted to meet specific needs.  Sometimes a child may need time to calm down, to rest, or to carry out personal exercise programmes in a safe and comfortable room.  The different equipment in the sensory room can be used to meet these needs, or to support the children in developing their interaction and communication with others.

The equipment is wireless and switch operated, allowing for maximum access and flexibility.   There is also a hoisting system for more severely disabled children, so that they can move around the room and lie in comfort on the matting or bean bags.

    The sensory room equipment includes:

  • colour changing wall wash
  • bubble tube
  • mirror ball and projector
  • fibre optic curtain and floor strands
  • colour-match panel game
  • voice/switch activated fireworks panel
  • music and vibration bean bag
  • trampoline
  • visual and tactile board
  • a range of sensory toys


The Lighthouse Kitchen

The fully-equipped kitchen facilities offer an environment for messy play, art activities, and cooking.  Weekly cooking sessions offer cross-curricular learning through creating a variety of sweet and savoury dishes linked to our language learning and school topics.  In these sessions our youngest children learn how to take turns, to follow instructions, to carry out actions such as cutting and stirring.  As they get older, they begin to learn about food and equipment safety, to instruct others, and  evaluate what they have made using descriptive language.

Lighthouse Staff


Teachers of the Deaf:

Melanie Harrington  [KS2 Teacher of the Deaf]

Alice South [Foundation & KS1 Teacher of the Deaf]

Siobhan Walsh [Foundation & KS1 Teacher of the Deaf]


Specialist Speech & Language Therapists:

Natalie Barclay, Kate Green and Nina Gresham


Specialist Teaching Assistants [Deafness & Disability]:

Bron Buxton

Katie Coe

Chloe Davis

Tracy Davis

Danielle Davies

Abby Day

Louise Dyas

Esther Ferguson

Hannah Knell

Jeanne Paxton

Tania Parslow

Thea McConnell

Philippa Rees

Anita Roffey

Karen Thorn

Jono Bennett

Nelea Snelling

The Lighthouse Curriculum

“.. those in The Lighthouse make good progress and their attainment is often better than it is for similar pupils nationally.  This is as a result of effective leadership and management … well-targeted support and highly skilled specialist teaching for pupils who are deaf or have complex needs.” [OFSTED, January 2014]


The majority of deaf children attend The Lighthouse for daily small group or one-to-one lessons in language acquisition, English and mathematics, all delivered by specialist teaching staff. Targets for achievement are set out in each child’s provision map and curriculum plan.  We teach through a lot of first-hand experiences such as creative arts, drama, cookery and real-life experiences such as visits to a fire station or farm. We also offer a PSHE programme called ‘PATHs’ from Year 3 onwards, which is specifically designed to support deaf children’s understanding of emotions and behaviour.

In our news items you can see examples of the teaching and learning, giving you a flavour of the sorts of activities we provide to introduce new language to the children and to help them progress.

We monitor pupils’ progress through observations and regular assessment tasks, with evidence being recorded on B-Squared, an assessment tool that records progress and helps to identify children’s ‘next steps’ for learning.

“Very effective, specialised teaching in the Lighthouse and the close, individual support pupils receive in class and in small or individual groups has a very positive impact on learning.” [Ofsted, January 2014]

Lighthouse Parents & Families

We offer family signing sessions on request, as well as a parents’ lending library of BSL dictionaries, books, BSL topic flashcards, and communication fans (symbols).  If you would like to talk to your teacher of the deaf about sign language support or want to find out more about our lending library, please write a message in your child’s home-school book.  You are also very welcome to call the school or contact Melanie Harrington & Alice South via email at


Learning British Sign Language

There are many great resources on-line to help you get started with some BSL basics.

Click here for a free BSL dictionary.

Click here for a helpful beginner’s course that you can study at your own pace (£19.99 fee).

Click here for free on-line clips of BSL topic words such as family names, colours, and numbers.

The following links also give full information about two BSL training providers in the Surrey and Hampshire area:

Sign for Thoughts

Dot Sign Language

A local charity, Chloe’s and Sophie’s Special Ears Fund [CSSEF], can offer grants to help support parents wanting to learn to sign.  Please click here to see further information.

Support Groups & Events for Families

Surrey Deaf Children’s Society provides support and advice to parents of deaf children, as well as regular opportunities to meet other families for some great days out or just a coffee and chat.  Click here to link to their website.

The National Deaf Children’s Society also holds events for parents and families in the South East, gives information about different aspects of deafness, and can support and advise parents.  Click here to link to their website.

Sign Language Club

Mrs Davis and Mrs Walsh are running a sign club for children in year 2 this term on Monday lunchtimes.

Mrs Harrington an Mrs Knell are running a lunchtime club for children in year 3 on Thursday lunchtimes.


There are lots of ways you can practise sign language.  Here are some links to T.V. programmes, games and free downloads:

Click here for some great children’s TV programmes all with British Sign Language.

Click here for a fingerspelling game.

Click here for more information, games and apps to help with learning sign language.

Stuck for a sign?  Click here to try searching in the on-line BSL dictionary.