Cuts to specialist teachers threaten deaf children’s futures in the East Midlands

Deaf children in the East Midlands are facing an uncertain future after further cuts to their specialist teachers.

Teachers of the Deaf, who provide vital help and support to deaf children throughout their education, have been reduced by 7% in the last year, a new report from the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education reveals.

The figures also show that almost one in three (29%) have now been cut since the annual report began eight years ago.

In the 2010/11 academic year, there were 88 fully-qualified specialist teachers for the region’s deaf children. This had fallen to 67 by 2016/17 and the total now stands at just 62.

The National Deaf Children’s Society, which is part of the group that produces the report, says specialist teachers have a huge impact on the lives of deaf children, starting at diagnosis and lasting throughout their education.

This can include one-to-one support at school, help with crucial audiology appointments, assistance with hearing technology and key advice for the child, their parents and their teachers.

The charity has warned that cutting these teachers could lead to deaf children feeling isolated and falling short of their full potential at school, leading to the gap between deaf and hearing children’s grades getting even wider.

Figures from the National Deaf Children’s Society also show that more than half of those teachers still in post are over 50 years old, meaning they are due to retire in the next 10-15 years. The charity is urging local authorities to address this now to avoid a recruitment crisis further down the line.

Martin Thacker, East Midlands Regional Director for the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “These cuts risk depriving thousands of deaf children of their right to a full education and that is simply unacceptable.

“Deafness is not a learning disability, but deaf children in the East Midlands are falling an average of a grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE.

“Deaf children can do anything their hearing friends can do, but they need the right support. It’s time for local councils across the region to reverse these cuts, address the impending recruitment crisis and fulfil its legal duty of ensuring that every deaf child gets the same opportunity to shine as everyone else.”

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s Emma Fraser, who has worked as a specialist Teacher of the Deaf for the last 10 years, said: “Teachers of the Deaf play a vital role in the lives of deaf children and their families, from diagnosis and throughout their journey through school.

“They ensure deaf children can develop language and communication early in life and support them and their families at every turn. They also provide advice and training for schools to ensure every deaf child gets the right support.

“Deaf children already have to overcome obstacles every day. Cutting their Teachers of the Deaf condemns them to lengthy, uphill battles just to receive the support they deserve.”

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