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Nine out of 10 parents fear for their deaf child’s future amid crisis decimating the SEND system

Nine out of ten parents of deaf children are worried about the future of their child’s support at school, a new survey has revealed.

The poll of 1,011 parents, released today by the National Deaf Children’s Society, also shows that 82% feel do not feel there is enough funding for deaf children’s education in their area.

The results also reveal concerns about the effects of the Government’s major 2014 reforms of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities system.

Just 5% of parents felt the situation had improved for them and their deaf child since the reforms, with almost half saying things had got worse.

The Education Select Committee will meet again today to continue its inquiry into the reforms, hearing evidence from representatives across the disability sector.

The meeting comes as the National Deaf Children’s Society says a funding crisis is decimating the SEND system and risks spiralling out of control.

The charity says that while there is no silver bullet, there are simple, cost-effective steps that the Government must take to safeguard deaf children’s education.

Susan Daniels OBE, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“These results tell a heartbreaking story of the state of deaf children’s education in this country. Despite the Government’s repeated claims of record funding, this evidence shows that support is simply not getting to the deaf children who so desperately need it.

“We now find ourselves in a situation where an overwhelming majority of parents fear for the future of their deaf child’s education and this is completely unacceptable.

“There is no silver bullet to solve this crisis. However, by setting up a fund to train new specialist teachers, plugging the £4m funding gap in deaf children’s services, along with Ofsted holding councils to account more forcefully, the Government can make real, affordable improvements to deaf children’s education.

“If it doesn’t, it will be failing each and every one of them.”

Sarah Hepburn lives in Newcastle with her husband Paul and their daughters Grace (12) and Isla (9). When Isla was born, she was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. Before her third birthday, she went through surgery to fit two cochlear implants. Up until that point, Isla had no language skills.

Sarah says that despite the surgery being really successful in helping Isla develop language and communication skills, she still needs a lot of specialist support at school.

“Isla is so many things – she’s brave, clever, feisty, wickedly observant, fiercely determined and wildly competitive. She also happens to be profoundly deaf.

“We have spent the nine years that Isla has been in our lives teaching her that she is equal, that she is valued, that she has the potential to do everything her sister can. With one swift funding blow, she is being told the complete opposite.

“Earlier this year, we were told that the council and school could no longer fund the support Isla depends on. She’s gone from 15 hours a week of support from a teaching assistant to just three hours. It’s this support that has let Isla thrive in school, and it’s been completely cut back to the bone.

“I work in the NHS, so I know there are funding pressures. But the enormous cuts we are seeing to deaf children’s services across the country makes a mockery of the massive investments that are being made in areas like pioneering surgery for cochlear implants. Isla embodies all that is wonderful about our health service and our society, yet this move will be catastrophic for her and others like her.

“These constant cut backs cannot go unanswered. There must be accountability for decisions that are unfair at best, and at worst discriminatory.

“As Isla has grown up, she has gone from strength to strength, amazing us at every turn with her resilience, showing us that she can do anything. The Government need to realise what is happening on their watch, and need to act before deaf children like Isla have their futures stolen.”

There are approximately 45,000 deaf children in England. The National Deaf Children’s Society carried out a survey among 1,011 parents of deaf children on the topic of deaf children’s education.

  • 939 (94%) said they were worried about the future of their deaf child’s support, with just 29 (3%) saying they were not.
  • When asked about funding of education support for deaf children, 826 (82%) said there was not enough in their area. Just 44 (4%) said there was enough.
  • 38 (5%) said things had got better for them and their deaf child since the 2014 SEND reforms. 318 (42%) said it had got worse, while 36% said there had been no change and 17% were not sure. Those that this question did not apply to because their children were too young were removed from these results.
  • 674 (67%) said they did not have enough information about the quality of education services for deaf children in their area, 201 (20%) said they did.

About The National Deaf Children’s SocietyThe leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and their families. The National Deaf Children’s Society helps deaf children and young people thrive by providing impartial, practical and emotional support to them and their families, and by challenging governments and society to meet their needs.

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