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Deaf pupils achieve entire grade less at GCSE

Published Date: 01 Sep 2022

On average, deaf children achieved a GCSE grade lower than all children for at least the seventh year running.
• Deafness is not a learning disability, so there’s no reason why deaf children should achieve less if they get the right support.
• The National Deaf Children’s Society says deaf young people are being consistently failed by the education system.
• It’s urging the Government invest in specialist staff and avoid a long-term, devastating effect on deaf children’s education.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is urging the Government to level the playing field for deaf children and provide them with better support at school after they achieved an entire grade less at GCSE for the seventh year running.

With pupils across England set to receive their GCSEs tomorrow, analysis of last year’s results reveals that deaf children achieved a grade 4 on average, compared to a grade 5 for all children.

They also highlight attainment gaps in key subject areas, such as English and Maths. On average, just over a third (37.7%) of deaf children achieved a grade 5 in both these subjects, compared with more than half (51.9%) of all children.

The Department for Education is currently reviewing how children with special educational needs and disabilities are supported in schools as part of its SEND review.

The National Deaf Children’s Society believes it is crucial that the Government uses this opportunity to develop a plan to provide effective, long-term specialist support for deaf children in schools.

The charity is also urging the Government to invest in more vital Teachers of the Deaf, whose numbers have declined by 17% over the last decade, and other specialist staff.

Without this investment, it says there could be a long-term, devastating effect on deaf children’s education, with future generations also left to struggle.

Case study

Deaf pupil Helen told how despite receiving specialist support - including an invaluable Teacher of the Deaf - a lack of deaf awareness in school and a reluctance from some staff and senior management to engage left her to struggle on alone.

Helen, who will receive her GCSE results this week, said: “Teachers refused to switch their cameras on for online lessons during lockdown, which meant deaf students were unable to hear or lip read. It was deemed the teacher's safety online was more important than my education, which meant I missed about a year’s worth of learning.

“My local Teacher of the Deaf service is fantastic. They repeatedly offered the school free training which they refused and sent lots of information which many members of staff didn’t even look at.”

Helen also told how there was a lack of disability awareness among some pupils, which was the cause of bullying and discrimination for deaf and other disabled children.

She added: “We were left isolated and made to feel like we were worthless.”

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

“These figures are yet further proof that our education system is consistently failing deaf children. The current setup is simply not fit for purpose and without targeted investment in Teachers of the Deaf and other frontline staff, nothing will change.

“Deafness isn’t a learning disability and there’s no reason why deaf children should achieve less than hearing children. The issue is clearly a lack of support.

"This needs to be a serious wake-up call for anyone working in deaf education. If the Government fails to act during the SEND review, generation after generation of deaf children will keep being let down by a system that is meant to support them.”