Members area



Don't have a login?

Join us

Become a member

  • Connect with others through events, workshops, campaigns and our NEW online forum, Your Community
  • Discover information and insights in our resource hub and receive the latest updates via email
  • Access one-to-one support and tailored services which help reduce barriers for deaf children
Menu Open mobile desktop menu

Deaf pupils failed by education system for fifth consecutive year

Published Date: 21 Aug 2020
  • Deaf pupils are yet again being let down by a badly-designed, inaccessible education system that does not deliver for them, charity warns.
  • On average, deaf children have achieved an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE for at least the last five years, new analysis of 2019’s figures has revealed.
  • The average Attainment 8 score for deaf children in 2019 was 38.6, compared to 49.9 for hearing children.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society says deafness isn’t a learning disability and the results show that education policy is failing deaf children.
  • The Government now has a “golden opportunity to right generations of injustices” by providing accessible learning and better support immediately.

Deaf children in England have been failed by the education system for the fifth consecutive year, new analysis has revealed.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says that 2019’s GCSE results show deaf pupils have again achieved an entire grade less than their hearing classmates, with the gap between them now getting wider.

According to the figures, the average Attainment 8 score for deaf children last year was 38.6, compared to 49.9 for hearing children.

In 2018, it was 39.2 for deaf children and 49.8 among hearing children.

The figures, which go back to the introduction of Attainment 8 in 2015, show a gap of an entire grade every year. The charity has also calculated that the current rate of improvement, it will take at least 24 years for deaf and hearing children to achieve the same results.

The charity says that deafness is not a learning disability, so the gap in results is down to ineffective education policy and the Government’s failure to tackle the key challenges affecting deaf children's education.

Worse still, as deaf pupils anxiously await their grades in 2020, the charity also fears that because coronavirus has severely affected the support available during a crucial period of their education, the gap could grow wider still.

The new data also shows a significant difference in achievement for English and Maths, with less than half of deaf pupils (48.2%) achieving at least a grade 4, compared to almost three quarters of hearing pupils (71%).

The National Deaf Children’s Society says that the problem runs right through the heart of education, with many deaf children finding themselves behind before they even reach secondary school.

Last year less than half (44%) reached the expected standard for reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to three quarters (74%) of hearing children.

The charity says deaf children have been seriously disadvantaged because the coronavirus pandemic made it much more difficult for them to get support from the key staff they rely on. In addition, despite the best efforts of schools, many resources offered for learning at home were simply not accessible to deaf pupils due to a lack of subtitles and translation into British Sign Language.

As a result, the charity is calling on the Government to urgently re-examine how it’s providing for deaf children and make sure that any tuition or catch-up lessons are fully accessible.

It also wants the Department for Education to introduce a bursary to train hundreds more specialist teachers to provide crucial one-on-one support for deaf children.

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

“This year every child in the country has experienced what it’s like to be excluded from education. For many deaf children, this is the daily reality in a system that is badly designed and consistently lets them down.

“As we build back better, we cannot and must not accept a second rate system for deaf children. No one should be denied a high quality education, but despite successive Governments repeatedly claiming to have the same ambition for every child, deaf children’s GCSE results show that these promises just aren’t being delivered.

“We need our education system to be less combative for parents and more supportive for all, particularly those from low income families, whilst making sure that high quality education is never undermined by the basic challenges deaf children face each and every day, like inaccessible lessons and inadequate communication support.

“This is a golden opportunity to right the injustices deaf children have been facing for generations. The Government must now show it has the guts to take on the challenge and deliver for every deaf child in every corner of the country.”