Manchester council cutting support for deaf children
24 February 2017
The National Deaf Children’s Society, local campaigners and university experts are urging the council to halt plans for substantial cuts to services for deaf children.
Manchester City Council has proposed to cut more than £275,000 from sensory support services for children with visual and hearing impairments . If the cuts go ahead, the city will close a specialist teaching unit, lose two full-time Teachers of the Deaf and reduce numbers of highly qualified Teaching Assistants.
There is a significant attainment gap between deaf and hearing children in Manchester , and concerns have been raised that these cuts will make a bad situation worse.
Almost 200 parents have signed a petition against the cuts, including Lisa Roberts from Manchester, whose three-year-old daughter relies heavily on these services.
Lisa said: “I didn’t have a clue about deafness when my daughter was diagnosed; I don’t know what I would have done without our Teacher of the Deaf to help me understand her needs.
“I’m worried my daughter won’t get support when she starts school. If they close the specialist unit, how will there be a place for any new children in the area? I feel she could be lost in the system and her education will severely suffer if the cuts go ahead.”
Genie Family Centre and Manchester Deaf Centre have also strongly opposed the cuts, as well as University of Manchester deaf education experts Professor Alys Young and Professor Wendy McCracken.
Council officials say the cuts are needed to fund special school places – but since they were proposed, the government has announced plans to increase Manchester’s funding by more than £1million, so the rationale behind the cuts is flawed.
Hazel Badjie, North West Director for the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “The cuts proposed by Manchester City Council are unjustified and unacceptable, and could be catastrophic for some children.
“90% of deaf children have hearing families with no experience of deafness so specialist support is absolutely vital. With the right support, deaf children can do anything other children can do – but if the council cuts that support, deaf children will suffer.”
Councillors will meet on Tuesday 28 February to discuss the proposed cuts before making a final decision on Wednesday 8 March.
To find out more and support the campaign, go to ndcs.org.uk/Manchester.