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9 in 10 teachers don’t get enough training to educate deaf children

Published Date: 13 Apr 2022

• 86% of teachers received inadequate training to educate deaf children.
• Deaf children already achieve an entire grade less at GCSE, even though deafness isn’t a learning disability.
• Charity calls for deaf awareness to be included in teacher training to stop deaf students falling behind at school.
Almost nine in ten teachers across England say they haven’t been trained to educate deaf children effectively, a new survey from the National Deaf Children’s Society reveals.

The poll of 5,332 primary and secondary school teachers, released today, shows that 86% feel their Initial Teacher Training didn’t provide them with enough information on meeting deaf children’s needs.

In secondary schools, the figure was 84%, but it rose to 89% in primary schools, fuelling concerns around support for deaf children in the key early development years.

With 83% of teachers aged 50 and over stating that their Initial Teacher Training was inadequate for teaching deaf children, and 86% in their twenties finding likewise, the charity is also concerned that that the standard of training has declined, rather than advanced, in recent decades.

There are currently around 33,000 deaf children in schools across England, with the vast majority (84%) in mainstream schools.

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 achieve at least two A-levels or equivalent, compared to more than half of hearing children.

As part of the Government’s upcoming Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review, the National Deaf Children’s Society is calling for deaf awareness to be included in all Initial Teacher Training going forward. It says the training needs to provide teachers with a basic understanding of how to support deaf children and who to turn to for more specialist advice.

Without this important step, the charity says teachers will continue to experience “shocking shortfalls” in their training and struggle to support the deaf children in their class, who may fall even further behind as a result.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“Teachers across England have presented us with irrefutable proof that the current system prevents them from helping deaf children reach their potential.

“We already know that seven in ten teachers don’t feel confident in educating deaf children and given the shocking shortfalls in their training, it’s no wonder why.

“The Government must use the upcoming SEND Review to adapt Initial Teacher Training so it considers deaf pupils, their needs and the specialist support available to them. The Government must also ensure that teachers are able to access further specialist advice from Teachers of the Deaf when they need it.

“We all know the difference that an inspiring and knowledgeable teacher can make. Deaf students have just as much right to benefit from these teachers as their hearing classmates.”