We welcome the work of the National Deaf Children’s Society in highlighting the significant challenges on services for deaf children.

A study by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE), supported by the National Deaf Children’s Society, showed that:

  • Councils have slashed numbers of specialist Teachers of the Deaf by 14% in the last 7 years, despite reporting a 31% increase in the number of deaf children. 
  • 57% of existing specialist staff are due to retire in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • 15% of councils have 1 specialist teacher for every 100 students.

In response to the report, Robert Goodwill, minister of state for children and families, said that “Most children who are deaf are able to attend their local schools while receiving expert advice, and for those with more complex needs there are specialist deaf schools. This has shown results, with the ‎proportion of children with hearing impairment achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs, including in English and maths, at a record high.” 

The number of deaf children in England achieving this National GCSE benchmark of 5 A*-Cs is 41.3% (NDCS, 2017). This may be a record high, but is still significantly lower than the proportion of children with no Special educational needs, which was 63.9%. 

This really should not be the case. Deafness is not a learning disability, and with the right support, deaf children can achieve on a par with their hearing peers. At AVUK, we see first-hand the outcomes possible when deaf children receive effective support in the critical early years of their lives.  

Karen Gazeley, Teacher of the Deaf and Auditory Verbal Therapist at AVUK said:

We need to be encouraging young teachers to further their training and complete the Mandatory Qualification to specialise in teaching deaf children, by providing funding opportunities. We also need to ensure that those currently qualified have access and funding to continued professional development, that enables them to maximise outcomes for the deaf children that they work with. Having worked as a Teacher of the Deaf for 30 years, I have seen just how important effective and consistent support is to enable deaf children to achieve their potential. The cuts to services can have a devastating effect on the outcomes of deaf children.

The new study paints a challenging picture for deaf children in the country. We hope that the government will take forward the National Deaf Children’s Society's calls for a centralised bursary to fund trainee Teachers of the Deaf, with a recruitment drive to get more of them into the classroom – as well as supporting ongoing CPD for existing teachers.