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Scottish deaf children need better early years support

Published Date: 05 Sep 2016

Our Scotland team is calling on the Scottish Government and its partners to take action to drive up the standard of early years support for deaf children and their families.

Latest Scottish Government data shows that last year 11.8% of deaf learners left school with no qualifications (compared with 2.6% of all pupils). Our new ‘Getting It Right from the Start’ report, published today, details how effective early years support is critical to closing this attainment gap.

While the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act (2015) and national Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach have the potential to improve outcomes for deaf children and their families, there is still much to be done to ensure all 3,000 deaf children in Scotland get the support needed to fulfil their potential.

Katie Rafferty, our Policy and Campaigns Manager in Scotland, said: “Every child deserves the best start in life – but 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with no experience of deafness, so early years support is vital to empower families and create equity.

“We are calling for an improved, consistent approach across Scotland to deliver this support and ensure no deaf child is left behind. With the right support from the very start, deaf children can achieve just as much as their hearing peers.”

John Cunningham from Glasgow, whose nine-year-old daughter is deaf, said: “As a parent of a deaf child, I know how hard it can be when you are first told your child is deaf and you don’t understand the impact it will have. It is easy to feel lost in those early years, so families need the right support from the very start. My daughter is a wonderful example of the fantastic things deaf children can achieve when they get the support they need.”

We're running a week of activities in and around the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of issues highlighted in the report, including a visit from our Roadshow Bus on Wednesday 7 September and a Parliamentary Reception led by young people and attended by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP.

This week also sees the launch of our Everyone Together Project, a Big Lottery funded initiative which will see targeted support and activity for deaf children and families across Scotland.