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Returning to school after lockdown: what you told us

Published Date: 02 Nov 2020

This September we asked you to tell us how things are going for your deaf child at school or college. We also asked deaf young people directly about their experiences of returning to school or college after lockdown.

Schools and colleges are very different at the moment, and we really wanted to know how the new rules are affecting deaf children and young people. Your responses told us where we needed to act – and what to ask from the Government to make sure that deaf children and young people are not missing out on their education.  

Some of the key things you told us were:

  • Specialist support and therapies have been reduced. In particular, you told us that your child is receiving less support from teaching assistants and speech and language therapists.
  • Teacher of the Deaf support has changed. More than half of you told us that your child’s Teacher of the Deaf is currently not able to visit your child’s school or college.
  • If your child is in a school or college with a resource base, one quarter of you told us that your child is not receiving the same support from the resource base as before lockdown. Some resource bases are currently closed or running at reduced capacity. In other schools, children are not allowed to leave their year-group bubble to attend classes in the resource base, or specialist support staff can no longer move across classes to support children.
  • Lots of you are concerned that specialist support is not being provided as set out in your child’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
  • If your child normally uses a radio aid, 16% of you told us that the radio aid is not being used at the moment. Some of you also mentioned that radio aids are being used differently, for example only in conference mode. And, some of you are concerned that teachers have not received training on how to use your child’s radio aid properly.
  • You are concerned that the use of face masks/coverings is having a negative impact on your child’s learning and wellbeing.
  • One in four of you told us that some, or all, of your child’s teachers are wearing face masks/coverings in the classroom. This applies to children in primary schools and secondary schools or colleges.
  • Separately, 46% of you reported that face masks/coverings are being worn sometimes, or all the time, by staff or pupils in communal areas in your child’s school or college.
  • Lots of you mentioned that your child’s school or college has not been proactive about providing a solution about face masks/coverings. Instead, it’s been left up to you to remind the school or college that face masks/coverings will cause difficulties for your child.
  • Some children are still learning at home some of the time – or have been sent home to self-isolate due to coronavirus cases in school or college. You have told us that there are issues with being able to access online learning at home due to, for example, a lack of subtitles and British Sign Language translations.

In England, we have told civil servants about the issues that you raised with us. The briefing that we sent them includes a number of recommendations to address the needs of deaf children and young people in education. You can read the briefing here.

We have also met with Ministers and MPs to let them know about the issues you’ve told us. If you would like to meet with your MP (or MS, MSP or MLA) too and would like support to do this – just get in touch via the campaigns inbox and we’ll give you everything you need to do this.

Our coronavirus blogs have more information on things that might be different for your child because of coronavirus, including information about schools and other education settings.

This recent blog has more information on what to do if face masks/coverings are being worn in your child’s school or college. The blog includes template letters that you can send to your child’s school or college.

Thank you to all of you who have completed our survey and shared your child’s experiences of returning to school. We’ll be repeating the survey in November to find out what’s changed and to ask some new questions – please look out for this.

In the meantime, you can continue telling us what’s happening by emailing [email protected]. If you feel like you need support or advice, you can contact our free Helpline on 0808 800 8880 or [email protected]

Lindsey Valkenborgs

Campaigns Officer
Campaigning and Advocacy team