Deaf charity labels cuts ‘reckless’

Written by: HTU | Published:

“Reckless" council cuts to deaf children's support could eradicate the progress that has been made in recent years, a charity has warned.

“Reckless" council cuts to deaf children's support could eradicate the progress that has been made in recent years, a charity has warned.

The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) has made a plea to local authorities across England to continue their support for deaf children.

It follows news that one in five local authorities is cutting educational support in this area.

Support provided through local authority funding includes specialist teachers of the deaf and teaching assistants who provide “invaluable" support for deaf children and their families.

Ian Noon, senior policy, campaigns and research officer at the NDCS, told Headteacher Update that local authority services play a crucial role in helping children to develop their language and communication skills as well as opening doors in education.

He explained: “We are very concerned that reckless council cuts to teachers of the deaf and other specialist support will eradicate the gains deaf children have made in the last few years. If councils fail to protect the support that deaf children rely on to learn, more deaf children will fall behind at school.

“The consequences of leaving school without good qualifications in today's extremely tough job market are severe and deaf young people are not getting the grades they need to compete. These cuts threaten to make an unfair situation even worse."

There are at least 34,927 deaf children in England, but around 75 per cent do not have a statement of SEN, according to research from the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education published in December.

The same study also showed that 30 per cent of education services for deaf children have seen a decrease in their non-staffing budget in the past year while 20 per cent report that their eligibility criteria and/or overall quality of service has worsened.

The NDCS has been campaigning in a number of areas to protect services from cuts.

The current list of live campaigns on its website includes Cumbria, Warwickshire, Derby, Camden, Rochdale, Humber, Southampton and Tameside.

A recent success has come in Salford where plans to halve the specialist support for deaf children have now been put on hold by the city council.

Government data suggests that deaf children are not performing to the same levels as their non-hearing impaired classmates.

Last year's GCSE results show that four in 10 deaf children are achieving five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths, compared to seven in 10 of their classmates. However, the gap between the two has narrowed from 46 per cent last year to 43 per cent this year.

Brian Gale, director of policy and campaigns at NDCS, said: “Although we are encouraged to see the continued improvement in deaf children's attainment at school, we are very concerned that local authorities are sabotaging the future achievement of deaf children by cutting vital support."

Mr Noon added that as a result of the local funding cuts, teachers will also see a reduction in training and support to help them understand the needs of their deaf children and how to teach and involve them in the classroom.

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