AVUK welcomes the Government’s consultation on its Green Paper for a stronger system for children with special educational needs and disabilities but it does not go far enough to support all deaf children to have the same opportunities in life as their hearing peers and achieve their potential. Ending the current SEND system’s ‘postcode lottery’ by providing needs-based support consistently across the UK is essential.

The current English SEND system is set up as a reactive system, which discourages early intervention. This works against deaf children who are normally identified early, many through the NHS new-born hearing screening programme. AVUK believes that early support must be made available for ALL deaf children. This is important whether their parents choose to communicate with spoken language, sign language or both.

The Government’s stated target is to ensure 90% of children achieve their expected educational standards, yet with only 44% of deaf children currently reaching this milestone a lot more support than currently proposed is needed. 

80% of children who attend an Auditory Verbal programme for at least two years achieve age-appropriate language, rising to 97% of children without additional needs. As a result, most children who receive AV therapy attend mainstream school and go on to achieve academic results on par with their hearing peers as the table below demonstrates.  

Source: AVUK, Listening and Language: Stepping Stones to Literacy (June 2022)

AVUK’s key concerns around the SEND review not going far enough are:

  • The need for more SEND specialists - AVUK’s vision is that all families should have access to evidence-based, early family-centred support that is right for them. This is important whether they wish for their child to develop spoken language, British Sign Language or both.
  • The proposed investment does not go far enough in supporting the early years workforce who play such a critical role in supporting and empowering families to enable their deaf child to achieve their full potential. It is vital therefore that specialist support for deaf children is not overlooked.
  • It is of significant concern that the SEND Review does not have a clear focus on a specialist workforce. This includes Speech and Language Therapists, Teachers of the Deaf and Audiologists.

Read AVUK's full response to the SEND review