‘Signing Stars’ British Sign Language choir brings pupils together

Children from two neighbouring Camden schools have joined a weekly signing choir, using British Sign Language to interpret their favourite songs. 

The pupils at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children and King’s Cross Academy primary school are members of the Signing Stars Signing Choir. The weekly lunchtime choir sessions are for children aged 8 to 11, both hearing and D/deaf, who are at all levels of British Sign Language (BSL), including beginners. 

The initiative is part of the ongoing collaboration between the two schools, which are next door to each other in Wollstonecraft Street, King’s Cross. As well as interpreting some of their favourite songs in BSL, the children take part in fun activities, including finger spelling in sign language and giving themselves their own BSL sign names. 

Louise Wilks, Frank Barnes School’s in-house interpreter who leads the sessions, said: “It is a fully signing choir, in which the children also use their facial expressions and body language to interpret the songs. They choose which songs they want to perform. We started in October last year and have performed a couple of times in the local area already. We want to do more public performances and we’re also hoping to enter the national signing choir competition. The King’s Cross Academy children have weekly BSL classes at their school, but this is a fun activity that they can join in with children from Frank Barnes. It’s also a great way to teach English for both hearing and D/deaf children because the language in songs is so rich.” 

Dani Sive, Headteacher at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, said: “During the pandemic we were unable to do any joint activities with King’s Cross Academy. We’re now enjoying more collaboration. As well as the Signing Stars choir, the two schools are working on joint curriculum projects, a playground consultation, and a project with the Global Generation Story Garden, in King’s Cross. Pupils from both schools will also be attending the Camden Schools Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall together in April.” 

Kay Baxter, Acting Headteacher at King's Cross Academy, said: “Music and British Sign Language are important to us at King’s Cross Academy, and are celebrated, promoted and encouraged. Being part of the Signing Stars Signing Choir has strengthened the collaboration between both schools, while helping to develop pupils' self-esteem, confidence as signers and friendships. Pupils are able to nurture their creativity through signing and performing together, a truly wonderful experience for all.”

  Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

This is a fantastic and lovely example of Camden schools collaborating in an inclusive way to have fun and raise achievement. As we set out in our recently published strategy for special educational needs, we want all children and young people with special educational needs and / or disabilities in Camden to succeed in life, from early years, to school and in adolescence, so they can lead fulfilled lives as adults.

Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

Find out more: 

  • You can find out more about the Signing Stars Signing Choir and see two videos of their performances here
  • Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Inspectors said that the school “provides exceptional opportunities for deaf pupils”
  • Camden’s Local Area SEND Strategy, 2022-27 was published in November last year. You can read the full report and an executive summary of the strategy here
  • Camden Council’s children’s services have been interpreted into BSL to make them accessible to D/deaf parents and carers. You can watch this BSL video here
  • The British Sign Language Act 2022 recognises BSL as an official language of the UK.