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More support needed for deaf children in Bucks' schools

The National Deaf Children's Society wants more investment from the government.

Published by Dan Gooding at 3:26pm 9th July 2020. (Updated at 7:02am 13th July 2020) 4-minute read.

More support needed for deaf children in Bucks' schools

There is a call for more support for the 381 deaf children at schools in Buckinghamshire.

A report on the issue shows many specialist teachers and assistants have been lost across the country over recent years.

Here, we have 8 teachers specialising in helping deaf kids.

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."

Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

“Children with a hearing impairment face a unique set of challenges, both inside and outside of the classroom. Within our Integrated SEND Service, Specialist Teachers provide high-quality teaching and support to our children and young people with a hearing impairment in Buckinghamshire. 

“Our key aim is to ensure the best possible outcomes for children, reinforced with constant and ongoing reviews of children’s progress. We do this by supporting children from diagnosis at birth, through early years, primary and secondary education and on to further education and the transition to adulthood. Parents and carers regularly tell us how pleased they are with the level of support provided to children and young people.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic our support for children and young people with a hearing impairment has continued. The Specialist Teachers in the Hearing Support team have used a variety of methods including video meetings, regular phone calls and regular emails to settings and parents/carers to ensure support for children and young people continues and ensuring children and young people have access to their learning as well as helping parents and carers support their children at home.”

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