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Special educational needs is in crisis - we marched with deaf children to demand its end

Published Date: 31 May 2019

Attending a protest march may not be the most typical way to spend the half term holidays, but when £1.1 million is due to be cut from support for deaf children – with other disabilities also seeing funding and services slashed – it’s not enough to simply stand by anymore.

On Thursday, thousands of parents of disabled children gathered across England to say enough is enough: cuts to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) must stop. We were there with them, marching alongside them across the country to call for an end to the funding crisis in deaf children’s education.

Placard which reads 'education is a right, it shouldn't have to be a fight'.

As I watched some of the many speakers talk about their experiences, one message stood out to me around the three main issues that lie at the heart of the crisis: funding, accountability and training. A trio of problems which affect deaf children’s services too.

In terms of funding, councils across England are planning to cut £1.1 million from educational services. As for training, specialist Teachers of the Deaf are leaving the profession year on year, with no scheme in place to train replacements. As for accountability, why is it being left to parents to challenge local authorities? Where is the Department for Education in all of this? Parents of disabled children who marched yesterday, handed in a petition with over 12,000 signatures calling on the Government to take action and stop the cuts and fund these vital services.

As I stood on Parliament Square with the rest of the Campaigns team, listening to the speeches from campaigners, there was a strong agreement amongst the crowd around disabled children having the power to achieve their potential, but lacking the essential support they need to do so.

Deafness, as a condition, is not a learning disability, and can therefore deaf children can do anything other children can do – but that’s only if the right provisions are in place.

Towards the end of the march, children stood underneath a statue of Ghandi, their message loud, clear, and striking. “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts,” they chanted.

Seeing young children campaigning and fighting for their support – not giving up - makes me hopeful for the future, but if the right funding is put in place for deaf and disabled children, then their futures can be a whole lot brighter.

Missed the march? Don’t worry. We’ll soon be updating our online map where you can find out if your local council is cutting support for deaf children. In the meantime, you can find out more about our Stolen Futures campaign on our webpage, and by reading our detailed campaigns briefing for parents.

Liam O'Dell

Liam is a Campaigns Officer at the National Deaf Children’s Society. He is mildly deaf, and wears hearing aids in both ears.