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Deaf children losing 10 specialist teaching units each year

Published Date: 31 Jan 2019
  • Schools and councils are closing 10 specialist teaching units for deaf children every year, new report reveals.
  • Specialist teachers working in units are also being reduced, with 10% cut in two years and 21% since 2014.
  • The Government introduced the biggest reforms to special needs education in a generation in 2014. Since then, across the whole of deaf education, 10% of specialist teachers have also been cut. Those remaining have seen their caseloads soar by more than a third.
  • Deaf pupils who lose their unit or Teacher of the Deaf miss out on crucial one-to-one support at school, while teachers and teaching assistants are left without advice and training on teaching deaf children.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society accused the Government of “woeful complacency” for failing to tackle the funding crisis engulfing deaf children’s education.

Ten dedicated in-school facilities for deaf children are being closed every year, according to a new report.

The facilities, which offer crucial support to deaf children and teaching staff, have been reduced from 260 to 240 in the past two years, a drop of 8%.

The figures come from the latest report by the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) and the National Deaf Children’s Society, which carries out an annual survey into the state of deaf education across England.

The results also show that staff working in specialist units have also been reduced, with cuts of 9% over the past two years and 21% since 2014.

Specialist units give deaf pupils the opportunity to be educated alongside their hearing peers and provide the support they need to succeed. This can include one-to-one teaching, support from specialist teachers or support staff and the monitoring and maintenance of specialist technology, such as hearing aid and radio aids. They can also provide deaf children with a peer group of deaf friends.

CRIDE’s report also analysed the number of specialist teachers across deaf education and discovered that since the Government’s major reforms of special needs education in 2014, one in ten of those teachers have been cut. During the same period, the latest figures show that individual teacher caseloads have soared to 60 children, a rise of 36%.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is warning that these cuts will lead to deaf children falling even further behind at school and reduce parents’ choice of how and where their child will be educated.

The charity is also concerned that in many areas, schools and local authorities are failing to inform parents of local specialist units, allowing them to save money by closing them due to low numbers.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says this is yet another sign of the crisis that is unfolding in deaf education. It is calling on the Government to “get a grip” of the situation and provide the funding that deaf children’s education needs.

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

“These figures are symptomatic of the pressures facing deaf children’s education. Their support is being reduced, their specialist teachers are being cut and, unsurprisingly, their grades at school have started to get worse.  

“This Government has reformed special needs education and promised greater choice for parents and a world class education for every child, yet deaf children are still falling a grade behind at GCSE.

“There are many simple, cost-effective solutions available that would have an incredible impact on deaf children’s lives. It is time for the Government to step up, get a grip of the situation and make the investment that is so desperately needed.”