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2 in 3 teachers don’t know how to teach a deaf child

Published Date: 22 Nov 2021

• 68% of teachers aren’t confident they can teach deaf children effectively.
• A third aren’t receiving crucial support from specialist staff.
• Deaf children already achieve an entire grade less at GCSE, even though deafness isn’t a learning disability.
• The National Deaf Children’s Society says the “shocking” findings must lead to urgent investment in specialist teachers.

Two thirds of teachers across England say they don’t know how to educate deaf students, a new survey from the National Deaf Children’s Society suggests.

The poll of 5,332 primary and secondary school teachers, released today, reveals that 68% don’t feel confident they can adapt the curriculum and teach a deaf child effectively.

Almost all respondents (96%) said if they were teaching a deaf pupil, they’d need ongoing support from someone with expert knowledge, such as a Teacher of the Deaf. However, more than a third (37%) had received no such support.

There are currently around 35,000 deaf children in schools across England, the vast majority of whom attend mainstream schools.

The National Deaf Children’s Society said the findings should shock those responsible for funding deaf education “to their core” and were yet more evidence that the system is simply not equipped to provide for deaf students.

Even though deafness isn’t a learning disability, deaf children already achieve less than their hearing classmates at every stage of school, including an entire grade lower at GCSE on average. Just a third get at least two A-levels or equivalent, compared to more than half of hearing children.

The charity says that unless urgent investment in specialist teaching staff is announced during the upcoming SEND review, the gap in results between deaf and hearing children will only get wider.

It says this investment must focus on Teachers of the Deaf, who play an instrumental role in deaf children’s lives but have been cut by 15% since 2011.

Susan Daniels OBE, Chief Executive at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“Tens of thousands of deaf children are walking into classrooms across England with a two in three chance that their teacher will not know how to educate them effectively. This should shock everyone responsible for funding deaf education to their core.

“Teachers are battling incredible pressures every day and they can’t be specialists in every disability, so it’s crucial they get the expert knowledge and support they need. All too often, this simply isn’t being delivered.

“The Government has frequently spoken of record investment in special needs education, but clearly far too little is reaching the deaf children who desperately need it.

“The upcoming SEND review is the perfect opportunity to right this injustice. By investing in more specialist support immediately, we can give an entire generation of deaf children the chance to reach their potential.”