Education16th July 2014

SEN Proposals will let Deaf kids down

Government plans to change support for Deaf kids builds on historical errors

by Sarah Lawrence

As a Deaf woman whose school achievements were often described as “considering her disability, Sarah is making good progress”, Deaf education has always been a topic dear to my heart. Having recently visited a deaf unit within a school where BSL is outlawed by the head (Despite a UN convention saying it is every deaf child’s right to learn sign language -, and seeing the reading, writing and general educational levels of 6 to 10 years olds already well behind those of an average hearing student, I believe deaf education is still an issue of significant importance today.

Successive research has shown that in general Deaf students leave school under educated, not because they have a learning disability, but because large swathes of the UK education system cannot communicate effectively with them. It is a national disgrace, but because deaf people are often ignored and suffer in silence, the national disgrace that has existed over many years, rumbles on today.

Is it with great interest that I read the Press Release issued by the National Deaf Children’s Society about proposed changes to the support currently provided to deaf students, the Government blue print for success being to cut the support. Seriously? Deaf children and their parents from all parts of the UK are already let down, the academic achievements prove that. These kids are equally talented, equally capable, they simply need to be taught in a way that meets their communication needs, and yet the ‘blue sky thinking plan’ is to withdraw support and throw them ever more strongly to the wolves.

The deaf community must have a voice on this issue and on deaf education more generally, so that atrocious decision making like this does not go unnoticed and our deaf kids assigned even further to the academic scrap heap. Here is the Press Release from the NDCS:


A key part of the Children and Families Bill that will have a crucial effect on deaf children is the Special Educational Needs reform. In particular, the National Deaf Children’s Society is interested in the proposed Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice. On Thursday [17 July 2014] MPs will be considering this guidance, before the Lords debate it on Monday 28 July.

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at the National Deaf Children’s Society said: “The proposed guidance currently gives local authorities the green light to ignore the vital help that deaf children need at school."

“In its proposed form, the SEND Code of Practice also perpetuates a system that expects parents to hold local authorities to account when they fail to provide the support deaf children need to learn. This is unrealistic and unacceptable. The Government must find a better way of ensuring local authorities follow their legal obligations."

“Deafness is not a learning disability, but 57% of deaf children fail to secure five GCSEs at grades A* - C due to a lack of support at school. There is no better time for the Government to change this."
“If the Government is serious about ensuring deaf children receive as good an education as other children, the Houses of Parliament must not approve the proposed guidance. The Government must go back to the drawing board and take action to ensure that local authorities can’t ignore their responsibilities to deaf children.” 

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Education

16th July 2014