Drop in deaf children’s educational achievement blamed on cuts

By Joe Lepper, Monday 28 January 2013

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Cuts to local authority support for children with special educational needs (SEN) have been blamed for the first fall in the proportion of deaf children achieving five good GCSE grades for five years.

A deaf teenager talking to his friend

NDCS is worried that deaf young people are missing out on education support. Image: NDCS

Latest Department for Education figures show that 37.3 per cent of deaf children gained five GCSE grades A*- C in 2012, compared to 39.7 per cent the previous year.

This is far below the England-wide average of 69 per cent and the first fall in the figures for deaf children since 2007.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) said the statistics show the “devastating impact” that council cuts to school support for deaf children are having on their education.

Jo Campion, NDCS deputy director of policy and campaigns, called on the government to step in to force councils to maintain specialist support.

“These figures confirm our worst fears; that the government is failing deaf children by refusing to take action to stop irresponsible local council cuts,” she said.

“The attainment gap is widening due to councils and the government constantly devaluing deaf children and taking away the support they need, putting the futures of thousands in jeopardy.”

Figures published as part of the charity’s Stolen Futures campaign found that one in three councils are cutting services for deaf children, usually by reducing the number of specialist teachers of the deaf and access to speech and language therapists.

The campaign also revealed some families are moving hundreds of miles in search of effective school support for their deaf children.

Campion argued that services for deaf children are suffering worse cuts than other areas of SEN provision.

The latest figures on GCSE grades show that there was a 2.7 per cent increase in the proportion of pupils with a visual impairment achieving five good GCSE grades between 2011 and 2012. Campion said: “This confirms a specific neglect of deaf children.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said councils “have a statutory duty to identify children’s special educational needs and provide the services to meet them”.

She added: “Councils must target funding at the most vulnerable children who need the most support, including deaf children. We’ve protected schools’ cash levels nationally and made sure local authorities can maintain specialist SEN provision.”

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