Cut-backs and recruitment problems hit deaf education

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A “deepening crisis” is facing deaf children’s education as on-going cut-backs hit the provision of specialist teachers.

New figures from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) show that the average caseload for specialist teachers of the deaf has risen 36 per cent in the last four years.

In that same period, one in 10 teachers of the deaf has been cut – with teacher numbers falling from 1,032 to 913 – and local authorities are planning further cuts of £4 million this coming year, according to the NDCS

Deaf children already achieve one whole GCSE grade lower than their hearing classmates and the charity says that the system is “under siege”.

The figures, from the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education, show that in 2013, teachers of the deaf were supporting 43 deaf children on average, rising to 49 in 2015. The latest annual survey of local authorities, carried out in 2017, shows that they now support an average of 60 deaf children. In some areas, the figure rises to more than 100.

The situation looks set to worsen given that Freedom of Information requests submitted by the NDCS earlier this year found that 45 councils in England (more than a third) are planning to cut support for deaf children this year, with an average cut of 10 per cent – amounting to £4 million.

There are also significant problems recruiting specialist teachers, the charity says, It is calling on the government to introduce a £3.5 million bursary fund to help train more than 400 new teachers of the deaf over a three-year period.

There are 45,000 deaf children in England and 80 per cent attend mainstream schools. Deaf children fall an average of a grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE and just 41 per cent achieve two
A levels or equivalent by the age of 19, compared to 65 per cent of other young people.

Susan Daniels, NDCS chief executive, said: “Councils face unprecedented levels of demand on their special needs budgets and deaf children’s support is being cut at a rate of knots, but the government keeps up its repeated claims of record investment in the system. The evidence we see on the ground shows this couldn’t be further than the truth.

“Deafness is not a learning disability and until there is no attainment gap between deaf and hearing children, the government will still be failing in its duty of care.

“Intransigence is no longer an option.”

  • For more on the work of the National Deaf Children’s Society, visit


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