Teachers issue ‘damning indictment’ on support for deaf pupils

Three-fifths of teachers believe deaf children will continue to underachieve in their studies without intervention, according to figures released today.

And just one in 20 teachers think the current education system allows deaf children to hit their full potential, according to a poll of approximately 5,700 primary and secondary school teachers.

The Teacher Tapp poll finds that, for the seventh consecutive year, deaf children achieved an entire grade less at GCSE and are being “consistently failed” by the education system.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), which commissioned the research, is calling for increased training for teachers to effectively teach children with hearing loss, whose numbers have fallen by 17 per cent in a decade.

A union leader has said that the findings show the need for additional government investment in the special educational needs or disabilities system.

NDCS found that 40 out of 150 councils in England have no specialist teaching units for deaf children.

Indeed, just 5 per cent of teachers think the current system allows deaf children to reach their full potential, a finding the charity’s director of policy and campaigns Mike Hobday described as “a damning indictment”.

“Deaf children already achieve less than their hearing classmates at every stage of school and it is gut-wrenching that most teachers do not believe this will change,” Mr Hobday said.

He added: “The government must use the SEND review to finally level the playing field for deaf pupils by investing in more teachers of the deaf, failing to do so will leave thousands of deaf children to struggle on alone.”

There are currently around 33,000 deaf children in schools across England, with the vast majority (84 per cent) in mainstream schools.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes today that current support for SEND was “clearly inadequate” and echoed NDCS’ calls for government assistance as the cost crisis continues.

“We fully support the call for more investment in teachers of the deaf, and indeed in special educational needs in general,” he said.

“This situation particularly impacts on special educational needs because of the need for higher staff-to-pupil ratios.

“However, there is no sign of additional government investment on the horizon, while planned reforms to the special educational needs system are years away, and are, in any case, vague on the issue of funding. Schools, colleges and children need action now.”

The Department for Education is undertaking a review of the support available to disabled children in schools as part of its SEND Review.

As Tes revealed last week, education secretary Kit Malthouse has promised a SEND improvement plan before Christmas.

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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