Education13th December 2013

Just a thought....

Has the disintegration of our counties affected the education and well-being of our deaf children?

by Jennie Finlayson


Has the disintegration of our counties affected the education and well-being of our deaf children?

I wouldn’t presume to argue the “pros and cons” of Schools for the Deaf versus mainstream education.  In common with all of us, deaf children are individuals who need different things.

​However, I would like to question a few things that have happened over the last 20 years or so. My daughter is profoundly deaf, but, for various reasons, attended a Partial Hearing Unit (P.H.U.). She was in school from 1972 to 1986 – a time of a lot of industrial unrest and cuts, so I wouldn’t have thought that the County Councils had much money to be throwing around, even then.

Our county was about 55 miles from East to West and on average, about 20 miles North to South, and heavily populated.  Within that county, there were about 16 PHUs (8 each for Primary and Secondary education). Each unit was headed by a qualified teacher of the deaf.  ONLY DEAF AND PARTIAL HEARING CHILDREN ATTENDED THESE UNITS.  The children were taxied to their nearest PHU..   In overall charge was an Advisory teacher, who travelled between the schools.  In our area, I shall refer to him as Mr. X.. I know for a fact that he knew every child by name, what their interests were, e.g. football, Brownies etc. and was genuinely interested in their social development, as well as their school work.  For this reason, they were all encouraged to go on courses, e.g. outward bound, drama, sports etc.  The siting of these courses were miles apart but all within the county boundaries.  It gave the children the chance to meet both hearing and other deaf children from outside their area and lasting friendships were made.

What happened next?  Well the county was split into 2 counties then, eventually, into the 5 counties we have today. Special needs teachers do a difficult job under difficult circumstances. They have to be genuinely caring of the needs of all disabled children and deserve our utmost respect. Can any of these small counties afford to pay for someone of the calibre of Mr. X though, a person who deals with the SPECIFIC needs of deaf children and only deaf children?  A big, fat no to that one, I should think.  For a start, I wouldn’t imagine that there are enough deaf children in each area, to justify the expense, particularly in the current financial climate? So, I ask myself again:-

Has the disintegration of the larger counties affected the education and well-being, and in particular, the mental well-being of our deaf children? 

Article by Jennie Finlayson

posted in Community / Education

13th December 2013