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Boost for deaf children with English as additional language

Published Date: 30 Jan 2019
  • Around 6,500 deaf children in the UK use English as an additional language
  • Without the right support, they can face a number of challenges which affect their development, confidence, school work and happiness
  • A new booklet and video are being launched with practical advice and strategies for teachers and education professionals to help children overcome these challenges and learn at the same pace as their hearing classmates.
  • These resources are free of charge and the National Deaf Children’s Society is urging all schools who work with these deaf children to use them.
  • 20% of deaf children using English as an additional language achieved a grade 5 in both English and Maths in 2017. This compares to 29% of deaf children generally and 47% of all English as an additional language users.

Thousands of deaf children using English as an additional language are set to benefit from two new resources aimed at improving learning and overcoming exclusion.

The number of children using English as an additional language has more than doubled in the last decade to over 1.5 million, around 6,500 of whom are deaf.

The National Deaf Children’s Society, together with The Bell Foundation, have teamed up to produce a booklet and a short video to help teachers and education professionals address the challenges these children can face.

The booklet, launched today, is entitled Supporting the Achievement of Deaf Children who use English as an additional language and includes practical advice, classroom strategies and case studies of deaf children and their families. It also provides advice on effective support to the wider family.

The information is also summarised in an accompanying three-minute video, which offers three tips to help improve learning.

Suggested classroom strategies include using assessments effectively, working in small groups and pre-teaching to explain vocabulary and key concepts before the full lesson begins. The advice comes from Teachers of the Deaf, who are specially-trained teachers with a qualification in working with deaf children, and The Bell Foundation, which co-funded the work and contributed its expertise in working with EAL learners.

The resources are aimed at boosting inclusion and achievement among all deaf child using English as an additional language. In 2017, just one in five achieved a grade 5 in both English and Maths, compared to 29% of deaf children generally and 47% of all English as an additional language users.

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s Emma Fraser, who worked as a Teacher of the Deaf for ten years, said:

“Learning English at the same time as being taught in a classroom can be difficult enough, but being deaf can make it even more challenging. It can also have a significant impact on a child’s learning, development and communication skills, which in turn affects their confidence and can lead to isolation.

“These resources aim to provide teachers with the tools they need to ensure every deaf child can learn at the same pace as their hearing classmates and we’re urging all schools to get involved.

“With the right help, deaf children can achieve anything in life and it’s vital that they have every chance to reach that potential.”

Sue Brownson, Deputy Head of Laycock Primary School, London, where the video was filmed, said:

“Resources like these are really important because the communication and learning skills that children develop in their early years will last them for the rest of their lives.

“If they don’t get the right support, deaf children can find learning more difficult and it can be even harder when English isn’t their first language.

“I see first-hand the amazing things that deaf children can achieve every day and we need to make sure they all have the chance to shine.”

Diana Sutton, Director, The Bell Foundation, said:

“At The Bell Foundation, we work with partners to develop evidence informed solutions to enable learners who use English as an Additional Language to fulfil their potential. As such, we were pleased to be able to work with the National Deaf Children’s Society to help produce these essential new resources designed to support teachers working with deaf learners who use EAL.

“These resources will make a welcome addition to our existing tools, advice and support strategies for all EAL learners.”

Schools can access both resources free of charge via this link: www.ndcs.org.uk/eal.