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Extra SEND funding announced - but will deaf children benefit?

Published Date: 02 Sep 2019

Parents of deaf children have been telling us for a long time about the impact that education funding cuts are having on deaf children. We’ve heard distressing stories about how cutbacks have resulted in families getting less support from Teachers of the Deaf in the vital early years. We’ve also heard about support being rationed in many areas when deaf children arrive at school or of deaf young people simply being abandoned without any support in further education.

Our Stolen Futures campaign has been working to challenge cuts at a local level. We’ve also been challenging the Department for Education to stop blathering on about “record levels of investment” and recognise the facts on the ground. There’ve been a number of reviews, all pointing to the same concerns. And deaf young people have been powerfully and directly making the case for more support in front of MPs at Parliament.

So the extra £700m of funding in England for special educational needs and disabilities announced last Friday is, at long last, a step in the right direction. This is part of a wider package of funding for schools and colleges. However, the devil will be in the detail, and ultimately it will be parents and young people who will be the final judge as to whether it’s enough.

There’s a great blog on the Special Needs Jungle website explaining some of the caveats behind the extra funding. Key thing to note is that the funding is for next year, and there’s real concern already that the funding will be used to plug deficits that local authorities have already built up.

From our perspective, the funding will all have been a pointless PR exercise unless it delivers actual tangible benefits to deaf children, with funding being channelled to local authority specialist education services for deaf children.

We’ve already given the Government lots of ideas of how any new funding can be spent. Top of the list is introducing a new bursary to fund the training costs for the next generation of Teachers of the Deaf.

Teachers of the Deaf can be seen as being at the forefront of early intervention for deaf children – for example, by providing support to families in the early years and making sure that deaf children are effectively included in mainstream early year settings, schools and colleges. In light of a 15% collapse in the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf since 2011, urgent action is needed to avert a crisis.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Department for Education to make sure that this blitz of positive headlines actually ends up delivering extra cash for deaf children.

Ian Noon

Ian is Chief Policy Advisor at the National Deaf Children’s Society.