The children’s minister Sarah Teather has insisted “there is no excuse for wholesale cuts” to educational support funded by the Dedicated Schools Grant, after it was revealed that one in four councils is cutting support and services to deaf children this year.
Her statement came in response to an oral Parliamentary question asking whether she was concerned about the scale of council cuts to support for deaf children, as uncovered by the National Deaf Children Society’s (NDCS) study, Stolen Futures.
Of those councils that the NDCS knows is cutting deaf children’s educational support this year, the services affected were partially funded from the Dedicated Schools Grant in seven cases and fully funded from it in 19 cases.
Jo Campion, the NDCS’s deputy director of policy and campaigns, said: “We were very alarmed to discover that councils are not protecting support that deaf children rely on to learn and develop, especially as education funding has been protected.
“This new warning from government to councils planning such cuts is very welcome, but deaf children need actions, not just words. The government must explain what steps it will be taking against councils who cut support for deaf children.”
The NDCS found that one quarter of England’s councils plan to cut vital support for deaf children this year, and a fifth were cutting educational support, even though the deaf and hearing impaired are already underachieving.
Half of councils said they are planning to “review” the way they help deaf children at school and 16 areas have confirmed cuts to speech and language therapy.
The NDCS has launched a petition calling on the government to act and for greater transparency from councils on the support they provide to deaf children. It requires 100,000 signatures to force the government to debate the issue in Parliament.