The National Deaf Children’s Society is warning that cuts to the support deaf children need are having a devastating impact, as the achievement of deaf GCSE students has dropped for the first time since records were collected.
New figures released by the Department for Education show that the number of deaf children achieving five GCSEs grades A*-C including English and Maths has fallen for the first time since 2007 – with 37% of deaf children achieving five GCSEs compared to 69% of their hearing peers.
The attainment of deaf children has fallen by 2.4 percentage points year on year, from nearly 40% of deaf children in 2011 to 37.3% in 2012.
With less than four in ten deaf children nationwide achieving five good GCSEs, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has branded the Government as failing deaf children.
Jo Campion, Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at NDCS said: “These figures confirm our worst fears; that the Government is failing deaf children by refusing to take action to stop irresponsible local council cuts. The attainment gap is widening due to councils and the Government constantly devaluing deaf children and taking away the support they need, putting the futures of thousands in jeopardy.
“Deafness is not a learning disability and there is no reason why most deaf children should not be doing as well as other children. Our Stolen Futures investigation has uncovered that one in three councils are taking away the support deaf children need, such as Teachers of the Deaf and Speech and Language therapists, and these figures show the devastating consequence of doing this.
“This is the first reported decline in the achievement of deaf children at GCSE level since the Government started collecting data in 2007, and we now need the Government to take responsibility for the children they are setting up to fail, and stop cuts being made before the attainment gap becomes even wider. We urge people to sign our Stolen Futures e-petition so we can force a Parliamentary debate on the issue and get the Government to take responsibility for the deaf children they are constantly ignoring.”
The situation for deaf children is worse than for other children with special educational needs. The figures show children with special educational needs have done better in their GCSEs overall – but deaf children specifically did worse.
Jo added: “This confirms a specific neglect of deaf children. Action needs to be taken now to stop more deaf children being failed by a Government that is ignoring their needs. With the right support deaf children can achieve anything other children can, but the cuts are taking that chance away.”
NDCS’ Stolen Futures investigation has found that local councils, struggling to cope with budgets that are being consistently squeezed, are cutting services deaf children need such as Teachers of the Deaf.
Teachers of the Deaf are a vital form of support for many deaf children, in monitoring their development, using specialist teaching methods that ensure they understand lessons and making sure they get the equipment they need.
NDCS’ latest cuts survey, which asked parents of deaf children questions about the support they receive, found that families are moving hundreds of miles across the country as local councils cut the support their deaf children need. The survey also found that speech and language therapy services are being the hardest hit by council cuts.
NDCS has launched the Stolen Futures campaign which calls on the Government to stop cutting deaf children’s services. The charity urgently needs 100,000 signatures on its e-petition to call on the Government to explain what it is doing to protect deaf children’s futures and secure a Parliamentary debate. The petition is available at www.ndcs.org.uk/petition
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