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Crunch time for Scottish deaf children as crisis escalates

Published Date: 03 Oct 2019
  • Nearly a third (29%) of Scotland’s specialist teachers for deaf children have been cut in the last eight years.
  • Nearly a third (30%) of remaining teachers don’t have the qualification for supporting deaf children and their families.
  • Nearly half (46%) of specialist teachers are due to retire in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society says “This needs to be a massive wake-up call for the Scottish Government. Inaction is no longer an option.”

Scotland’s 3,300 deaf children are facing a growing education crisis that is leaving their futures hanging in the balance, according to new research published today.

The findings, taken from a report by the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) and the National Deaf Children’s Society, show that nearly a third of Scotland’s specialist teachers for deaf children have been cut in the last eight years.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says the teachers, who provide life-changing support to deaf children from birth until they leave education, are “an absolute lifeline for families”.

There are now only 154 full time equivalent specialist teachers for deaf children in Scotland, down from 218 in 2011.

The report also uncovers that 30% of the remaining specialist teachers don’t hold the mandatory qualification required to do the job, with nearly half due to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. As a result, the charity is warning that a recruitment crisis is set to decimate a profession that’s already under-staffed and under-qualified.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is campaigning to get the Scottish Government to urgently review the Teacher of the Deaf workforce across the country and warning that the Scottish Government must invest in the profession.  

Alasdair O’Hara, who leads the National Deaf Children’s Society’s campaigning work in Scotland, said:

“Deaf children can achieve absolutely anything in life, but only if they get the right support. Today’s report highlights how across Scotland, there has been a complete failure to invest in our deaf children.

“This is utterly shameful, and we need to see an urgent investment in frontline staff from the Scottish Government and from councils up and down the country to solve this crisis and deliver for an entire generation of deaf children.

“The Scottish Government recently released an additional £15million to recruit new teaching assistants to support children with additional learning needs. If they can do this, then they must invest a fraction of that in rebuilding the education support our deaf children rely on.”

Danielle and Steven Robertson from East Lothian, are parents to Ella (4). Ella has been deaf from birth, and depends on the support she gets from a specialist teacher for deaf children. Danielle Robertson said:

“We have been so lucky with our Teacher of The Deaf, Catherine. She is just an amazing person, we count her as family now!

“She sees Ella twice a week, once at home and once at nursery and she is so patient with Ella because sometimes Ella just wants to play, but Catherine always makes sure she "works" before play! The bond her and Ella have is just amazing.

“Ella wouldn't be where she is today without Catherine, her communication has improved so much over the past year and that's all thanks to her. She is always there if we need to ask her anything.

“Nothing is ever too much for Catherine, she even comes to meetings for Ella on her days off.

“After being at a few National Deaf Children’s Society events and hearing about other families who don't have a Teacher of the Deaf, we are so lucky to not only have one but to have as great a one as her and we just couldn't imagine not having her in our lives.  Ella is due to start pre-school nursery and Catherine has been with us every step, from phoning round schools to find out ratios, to coming round schools with us. Honestly, we can’t tell you how much we appreciate her.”