Services for deaf children hit by £4m worth of cuts across 45 local authorities

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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A third of local authorities are set to cut an average of 10 per cent in funding from their specialist services for deaf and hearing-impaired children.

Freedom of Information requests by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have revealed that as much as £4 million could be cut from support services this year.

The data shows that of 122 local authorities in England who responded, 45 are cutting specialist support.

However, the Local Government Association (LGA) – which represents local authorities – has blamed a lack of funding from central government for the cuts. It is calling for an “urgent review of funding” to meet the rise in demand for SEN support services.

The attainment gap between deaf children and children with no SEN is widening, with deaf children now achieving more than a whole grade less at GCSE. Overall, 71 per cent of deaf children do not achieve a “good” grade in GCSE English and maths.

Previous NDCS research has revealed a 14 per cent cut in the number of specialist teachers of the deaf during the last seven years, with 15 per cent of councils now only having one specialist teacher for every 100 deaf children. There are around 50,000 deaf children in the UK.

Emma Fraser, who has worked as a specialist teacher of the deaf for the last nine years, said: “Deafness is not a learning disability, and with the right support, deaf children can absolutely do just as well as any other child at school. It’s so upsetting to see deaf children carry on falling behind. For those children, and for all of their families ... we need action now. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils know that deafness can make life incredibly difficult for some children who experience it, and take their responsibilities to support not just deaf children, but all those with SEND, through education, extremely seriously.”

He continued: “We have made it clear for some time now that there must be additional and on-going funding from the government to enable us to support high-needs children and their families, otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and these children could miss out on a mainstream education.

“This is why we are calling for an urgent review of funding to meet the unprecedented rise in demand for support from children with SEND.”


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