Santa’s little helpers can glean a little extra help relating to children with communication difficulties this Christmas.

Derwen College, in Gobowen, Shropshire, is running a signing workshop ensuring that stand-in Santas and elves have no problems understanding what all children want in their stockings this year.

The 2.5-hour fun Makaton workshop teaches the essential signs and symbols to make the grotto experience magical for youngsters of all abilities.

The workshop will be run by a trained Makaton tutor on November 24 from 2-4.30pm, and costs £10 per elf or Father Christmas. The course will teach a handful of Christmassy signs that will help to communicate with children and youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities.

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.

Julie Hawkins, Derwen College’s Head of Speech and Language said:

“This is the first year that Derwen College has run a Christmas Makaton workshop. We believe that by learning a few simple signs, every Santa and elf can communicate effectively with all children ensuring that the grotto experience is truly special for children with learning difficulties and disabilities.

“We hope that the workshop will be fun and will offer a bit of extra help for grotto staff, so that Father Christmas is never lost for words.”

Derwen College is a specialist residential college for young adults. It has gained a third consecutive ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grading and is a leader within the field of specialist education in the UK.

For further information on joining the Signing for Santas workshop telephone 01691 661234 Ext 230 or email

Pictured: Julie Hawkins, Head of Speech and Language, takes Santa through the basics of Makaton signing with the help of Derwen College students Poppy Olsmore and Daniel Fitzroy-Ezzy

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