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City of York Council

Creating a standardised way of using symbols within York


In York, it was widely recoginsed that symbol use was a very important part of the Inclusion Agenda in helping all children and young people in York to reach their full potential.

In order to promote and standardise the use of symbols in York, a multi-agency working party was set up to investigate and rationalise existing practice and encourage the effective use of symbols as young people transition through school.

Drawing upon the expertise of practitioners from health and education, the working party created 'Using symbols to support learning and communication' - an Authority-wide Symbol Guidance Document.

The document provides guidance for the use of symbols, encourages the standardisation of symbols and raises awareness of the importance of using symbols.

York's Symbol Guidance Document

The document also sets out recommendations that should be considered when using symbols to support communication and learning. These recommendations recognise that the symbol set needs to be consistently standardised throughout a setting, whilst still ensuring that consideration is given to any recommendations for a pupil's individual needs.


City of York Council purchased Widgit's symbol desktop publishing program InPrint for all 67 local authority schools in the area, as well as alll the early years settings and children’s centres. This software, along with the guidance document, enabled teachers and practitioners to create an inclusive learning environment by producing a range of consistent symbol-supported materials.

A launch event was held to introduce the guidance document and the InPrint software. This launch event was followed by a series of training days supported by Widgit, which offered further support and guidance for best practice in symbol use, and for getting the most out of creating symbol-supported inclusive materials with InPrint.


“In York, we realise the benefits of consistent and standardised use of symbols to support learning and communication for children, young people, families, professionals, and communities.

"We worked with Widgit to develop guidance on 'Using symbols to support learning and communication' so that every child and young person in York has the chance to reach their full potential.”

- Susan Coulter, Team Leader. Specialist Teaching Team, City of York Council




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