Last week I spoke in a debate on Deaf Children’s Services. This followed a debate I led earlier in the year, which proposed the development of a GCSE in British Sign Language. Much of that debate was about giving deaf children the best possible chance of communicating with other people; and getting the best educational outcomes. Sadly, attainment evidence shows this is not happening at present.
I have been keeping an eye on the services available to deaf children -both nationally and in my constituency- and I am disappointed to find that once again this government is ignoring the evidence.
Latest figures show that services available to deaf children are being significantly reduced across the country. Local authority spending on specialist education services for deaf children has been reducing since 2011. This reduction means the futures of deaf children are being “stolen” – according to the National Deaf Children’s Society.
The attainment gap between deaf children and other children is widening. This is not a gap of intelligence but of the support and the tools to communicate and understand as other children do.
Because most schools do not have the knowledge or skills to support deaf children themselves, it is essential that deaf children have access to the specialist support necessary for their learning and development. Improving access, rather than reducing it, is the only way we can give deaf children the start in life they deserve.