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‘Lifetime of being left behind’ sees deaf pupils under-achieve

Published Date: 13 Aug 2019

Deaf children across England are struggling at every stage of their education because of ‘a lifetime of being left behind’, according to the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The charity issued the warning after its new analysis of the Department for Education’s 2018 exam results for pupils up to the age of 19. It showed that just 44% of deaf pupils achieve two A-levels or equivalent, compared to 63% of hearing pupils.

On average, deaf children also fall an entire grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE. In addition, less than three quarters of them (73%) will gain five GCSEs or equivalent by age 19, compared to 88% of hearing children.

The situation is even worse for English and Maths, which are often both required to progress in education. Half (52%) of deaf pupils gain five GCSE passes or equivalent when English and Maths are included. This rises to three quarters (76%) for hearing pupils.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says that the problem affects deaf children throughout their education, as they arrive at secondary school having already fallen behind. Less than half (43%) reach the expected standard for reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to three quarters (74%) of other children.

There are similar concerns at Key Stage 1, with just over half (53%) of deaf children reaching the expected standard for reading, compared to 84% of their classmates.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says that deafness isn’t a learning disability and with the right support, deaf children can achieve the same as their hearing classmates.

However, it says the figures clearly show that deaf children are being failed at every turn by an education system that should be supporting them, with cuts to support services and key staff leaving the special educational needs system in crisis.

As a result, the charity is calling on the Government to get a grip on the situation and halt the crisis engulfing deaf education and the wider special educational needs system by properly funding the support every child needs to succeed.

The charity also wants the new Secretary of State for Education to introduce a bursary to train hundreds of new specialist teachers, who can provide crucial one-on-one support for deaf children, families and teachers from a child’s diagnosis right through to the end of their education.

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

“Deaf children arrive at school with amazing potential only to begin a lifetime of being left behind. While some of them are achieving incredible results and going on to their dream jobs, these results show that many more are being completely failed by the system on which they rely.

“For years the deepening crisis in deaf education has been brushed off with the Government pretending it didn’t exist. However, the Government’s own data now shows in black and white how dire the situation is for deaf children.

“The new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has a golden opportunity to change deaf children’s lives. He must immediately invest in their support, reverse the devastating cuts to their specialist teachers and finally act where so many of his predecessors have failed to.

“Every child deserves the chance to shine at school, and deaf children are no exception.”