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Yet more cuts to key staff as deaf children fall behind at school

Published Date: 17 Mar 2020

Yet more cuts to key staff as deaf children fall behind at school

  • New report shows key staff for deaf children have been cut yet again in the past two years in England.
  • One in ten Teaching Assistants and 7% of Communication Support Workers among the staff lost.
  • Deaf children fall behind at every stage of school, including an entire grade at GCSE, even though deafness is not a learning disability.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society says it’s “time to end the game of educational roulette” and called on the Government to urgently start investing in support for every deaf child.

Deaf children in England have been left fighting for their futures by year-after-year of savage cuts to their key support staff, the National Deaf Children’s Society has warned.

A new report, published by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE), shows that specialist staff for deaf children have been cut significantly yet again, with vital Teaching Assistants among those hardest hit this time.

The report, published every year, shows that Teaching Assistants for deaf children have fallen by 10% in the past two years. Deaf and Sign Language Instructors, who promote and teach sign language in schools, have dropped by 12%.

Communication Support Workers, who play a key role in helping deaf children understand their teachers and classmates, have also been cut by 7%.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says that the report yet again paints a bleak picture of the state of deaf education.

Previous reports from CRIDE have also shown consistent cuts to staff across deaf education, with specialist teachers for deaf children having already fallen by 9% since 2015.

During that time, the average caseload for a specialist teacher has soared from 49 to 62. This situation looks set to worsen as more than half of specialist teachers still in post are due to retire in the next 10-15 years.

Despite the year-on-year evidence, the charity says that warnings have been consistently ignored as staff numbers continue to be slashed. Meanwhile, deaf children are falling behind at every stage of school, culminating in an entire grade at GCSE on average.

The charity says the gap between them and their hearing classmates will only get wider without urgent investment to reverse the decline in staff, but instead deaf children are being increasingly left to fend for themselves as councils prioritise balancing the books.

As a result, it’s calling on the Government to spend some of the additional £780 million announced for special needs education quickly, with more key staff for deaf children the immediate priority.

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

“This report is yet more evidence of the shocking underinvestment in deaf education. With the right support, deaf children can achieve anything their hearing classmates can, but that support is constantly being cut just to balance the books.

“As a result, deaf children are being left to fend for themselves and unsurprisingly they’re falling behind at every stage of school.

“Getting the right support is a legal right, not a privilege, and it’s time this game of educational roulette ended once and for all. The Government has already announced £780 million for special needs education and promised every child a superb education, regardless of their background.

“It’s now time to back up those promises by signing the cheques, releasing some funds and investing urgently in specialist staff so deaf children can have the same chance as everyone else.”