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Charlotte's back to school support

Published Date: 06 Oct 2022

During the summer, I wrote a blog about requesting extra hours with Charlotte’s classroom assistant as she had moved to a longer day in school and was without support for the last hour every day, when she was at her most exhausted. The last hour of the day often is when a different teacher comes in and they learn a specialist subject.

Good news – the extra hours were authorised and funded!

So, how has it helped, and what else have we implemented to help with P5 (Northern Ireland)?

The extra hours have given Charlotte a classroom assistant for all the hours she’s in school. This is especially important as you don’t know when a deaf child won’t be able to understand what’s happening in the classroom: vocabulary, instructions, new topics, group work – all situations when she shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of communication needs.

We also met with her teacher at the start of the year, the first time we have done this. Although the Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) had visited and given information on deaf awareness, technology and Charlotte’s needs, we felt the personal details about Charlotte and how she learns, what she struggles with and how that could be aided in the classroom, were essential information for her new teacher.

Following this meeting, a lot has happened, and Charlotte’s really happy about the new strategies we’ve put in place. Her teacher and classroom assistants have started to video some of the teaching in class – especially with numeracy strategies – and then share them on Homeroom (a communication tool used by our school). It means that we can re-watch the teaching with Charlotte, something she looks forward to. Indeed, she’ll ask if it has been uploaded yet. The opportunity to re-watch is important if we need to reinforce vocabulary or understand the methodology to help with homework.

We have also worked with the ToD to identify the best seating position in the classroom, which happens to be at the front, facing the teacher’s desk, with her right ear facing the board (this is her preferred ear).

We have reinforced deaf awareness with school as Charlotte’s cochlear implants had some problems over the summer and her hearing had deteriorated. We think the problems are solved now, but we have asked everyone to be especially mindful to say Charlotte’s name before they speak to her, make eye contact when communicating, ask questions to ensure understanding, and allow quiet times when working to aid concentration.

We have already had to ask for homework extensions due to exhaustion in the evenings, but we expected that as a new school year started. As Charlotte settles back into her routine, I think that these will be less and less.

Overall, September has started really well. Hopefully this will continue, but importantly we have opened the channels of communication between ToD, school and family so that any problems or struggles can be identified early and dealt with quickly.


Sara and her husband James live in Northern Ireland and are parents to Sam (15), Matthew (13), Oliver (11) and Charlotte (9). Charlotte is profoundly Deaf and wears bilateral cochlear implants, communicating with a mix of speech and British Sign Language (BSL). Sara blogs about her experiences on Facebook as 'Deaf Princess' and Twitter @DeafPrincessNI and is leading the 'Sign Language for All' project.