Extra SEND funding must boost support for deaf children, say campaigners

By Dan Parton

| 03 September 2019

Parents and campaigners have delivered a petition to the Department for Education calling for an end to what they call the "funding crisis" in deaf education and more money to be directed to providing specialist support teachers.

There has been a 15 per cent rise in the number of children with hearing needs. Picture: Alex Deverill

The petition, started by parents of deaf children and signed by almost 40,000 people, highlights how deaf children across England have been hit by cuts to specialist teachers.

While the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) and parent campaigners welcomed the government's announcement of an extra £700m for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), they have warned that this money must get to frontline services that directly support children with SEND, particularly specialist teachers.

"Deaf children across the country are enduring huge cuts to their education support, and today's petition shows just how angry families are," said Ian Noon, chief policy adviser at the NDCS.

Noon added that the £700 million pledged to SEND education has the potential to be a "huge game changer" but only if it reaches the frontline.

"If just one per cent of this extra cash goes directly to support for deaf children and recruiting new specialist teachers, then this could be transformative," he said.

The NDCS reports that since 2011, there has been a 15 per cent cut to specialist teachers for deaf children. This is despite the government's own data showing there has been a 15 per cent rise in the number of deaf children requiring support since 2015.

Government figures also show that deaf children already fall behind at every stage of school and achieve an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE despite deafness not being a learning disability.

Ann Jillings from Lowestoft in Suffolk is the parent of a deaf child and runs a local group for other families of deaf children. She said that this funding "absolutely needs" to get straight to the frontline to help deaf children in early years and in the classroom reach their potential.

"The support deaf children rely on for their education has been left in tatters," she said.

"I speak to families all the time who are deeply concerned because of the nationwide crisis in deaf education, some of this money must go on the specialist support these families are crying out for.

"Boris Johnson has promised a ‘superb' education for every child. I just hope he's including deaf children in that."

Earlier this year, NDCS published analysis of government data which showed that the average GCSE grade for deaf children is 3.9, which used to be known as a grade D, significantly below the average grade.

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