Charity warns of ‘lost generation’ of deaf children being left behind at school

A “lost generation” of children are falling a whole grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has warned.

The charity says that less than half (48%) of deaf children achieve a grade four or above in both maths and English.

This is compared to almost three quarters (71%) of children without hearing impairments.

The NDCS says that, despite a slight improvement in deaf children’s grades since last year, it will take more than two decades to close the gap, resulting in a lost generation of deaf children.

According to the analysis based on the Department for Education’s (DfE) 2018 attainment figures, deaf children are arriving at school having already fallen behind.

Less than half (43%) achieve the expected standard at reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2 compared to 74% of other children, even though deafness is not a learning disability.

Figures also show the average GCSE grade for a child without special educational needs or a disability per subject is five, a strong C under the old system.

For deaf children, this falls to 3.9, historically a grade D.

The NDCS says the situation is “utterly unacceptable” four years on from the biggest reforms to special needs education in decades.

As a result, it is calling on the Government to provide additional funding so every deaf child gets the support they need at school.

Susan Daniels (pictured), chief executive of the NDCS, said: “These figures show the true depth of the crisis engulfing deaf education in this country.

“How much evidence does the Department for Education need before it acts?

“Deafness is not a learning disability, but deaf children are still falling a whole grade behind their classmates.

“Meanwhile, the Government is starving local councils of funding, meaning their support is cut back and their specialist teachers are being laid off.

“The Government needs to address the gap in results urgently and begin to adequately fund the support deaf children need.

“It promised every child in this country a world class education, but until deaf and hearing children progress and achieve at the same level, it is failing to deliver and that is utterly unacceptable.”

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable said there is a “growing gulf” between the legislation set out five years ago to meet the needs of children with special education needs and disabilities, and the financial crisis of local authorities.

He added: “The local authorities have an obligation to provide for children but have no funds to do it, resulting in a serious shortfall in provision.

“There is a generation of children whose needs are being ignored and who are being left behind in their education.

“The Conservative Government must find a way to address the shortfall in the next spending review, especially now the Prime Minister has declared an end to austerity.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) NDCS.