Deaf children still rejected by education system, charity says

Deaf children are being let down by an education system that has seen them achieve a full year less at GCSEs for five years in a row, a charity has warned.

Young people with hearing difficulties are not being properly supported and therefore suffer when it comes to learning and exams, the National Deaf Children’s Society said.

The charity said its analysis of the 2021 results showed that deaf children averaged Grade 4, compared to Grade 5 for all children.

The charity’s warning comes as schoolchildren await their GCSE results on Thursday, with grades expected to be down on last year but higher than before the pandemic.

Looking at the average Achievement 8 scores – which measure a student’s achievement in eight different subjects – he said there had been a difference in full marks each year since 2017 between deaf children and the highest mark. high achieved on average by all children.

There are more than 50,000 deaf children in the UK, including around 45,000 in England, according to the society.

The charity said data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows achievement gaps in key subjects including English and maths, with just over a third (37.7 per cent ) of deaf children achieving grade 5 in both subjects, compared to more than half (51.9%) of all children.

The society urged the government to use its review of how children with special educational needs and disabilities are supported in schools to “develop a plan to provide effective, long-term specialist support to deaf children in schools”.

It also urges the government to invest in more specially trained deaf teachers, whose numbers research shows have fallen by nearly a fifth (17%) over the past decade, and other specialist staff. .



Deafness is not a learning disability and there is no reason deaf children should perform less well than hearing children.

Mike Hobday, National Society of Deaf Children

Mike Hobday, the charity’s policy and campaign director, said the disparity in results is “further evidence that our education system is systematically failing deaf children”.

He said: “The current setup is simply not fit for purpose and without targeted investment in teachers of the deaf and other frontline staff, nothing will change.

“Deafness is not a learning disability and there is no reason why deaf children should perform less well than hearing children. The problem is clearly a lack of support.

“This should be a serious wake-up call for anyone working in deaf education.

“If the government does not act on the SEND (special educational needs and disability) review, generation after generation, deaf children will continue to be abandoned by a system that is supposed to support them.”

A DfE spokeswoman said: “All children and young people, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, should receive the support they need to be successful in their education.

“There is a legal requirement for qualified teachers to hold the relevant mandatory qualifications when teaching classes of pupils with sensory impairment.

“Our green paper proposals on sending and alternative provision will build on this support, aiming to change the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive. This includes early intervention, better targeted support and better workforce training.

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