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Specialist teachers for deaf children at 10-year low

Published Date: 25 Feb 2022

• Teachers of the Deaf fall for seventh time in 10 years.
• 1 in 6 have been lost since 2011 as they reach record low.
• Half are aged over 50, so are approaching retirement.
• 1 in 10 are now trainees learning on the job.
• Deaf children already fall behind throughout school – charity warns the situation could get worse without urgent Government investment.

Thousands of deaf children across England could be left “fighting for their futures” after the number of specialist teachers hit a 10-year low, the National Deaf Children’s Society says.

A new report, published by the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE), shows that one in six Teachers of the Deaf have been lost since 2011.

There are now just 887 who are fully qualified, compared to 1062 in 2011, a fall of 16%.

Around 45,000 deaf children live in England and they already fall behind at every stage of school, including an entire grade at GCSE.

Teachers of the Deaf play a crucial role in their lives by providing advice and support, from identification as deaf right through to the end of education. This includes supporting families to help deaf children develop language and communication, assistance with hearing technology and giving advice and training to classroom teachers on how to educate a deaf child effectively.

In addition to the drop in numbers, one in ten Teachers of the Deaf currently working in English schools are now trainees, meaning more than 5,000 deaf children may not have access to one who is fully qualified.

The charity is also concerned that more than half are over the age of 50, meaning they’re likely to retire in the next 10-15 years and further reduce the numbers available.

In response, the National Deaf Children’s Society is calling on the Government to announce more funding, specifically targeted at increasing the specialist support provided to schools, during the upcoming SEND review.

The charity says if the Government introduced a £1.3m bursary, it would fund more than 150 new Teachers of the Deaf. This would replace almost all of those that were lost and mean deaf children could start getting the support they need.

Without this vital step, it says deaf children will continue to fall behind and the gap between them and their hearing classmates risks getting even wider.

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

“Teachers of the Deaf play an absolutely crucial role, but year after year they’ve been cut just to balance the books. As a result, deaf children are left fighting for their futures and falling behind at every stage of school.

“We need urgent action to fix this issue, but there’s no guarantee that more funding for schools will be enough to provide exactly what deaf pupils need.

“With a fully-funded bursary, we could replace the Teachers of the Deaf who’ve been lost and make sure every deaf child gets the right support.

“The Government needs to make this happen during its upcoming SEND review, because thousands of deaf children are depending on it.”