Charity claims deaf pupils achieve an entire grade less at GCSE

Deaf children in the West Midlands achieve an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE because they are not getting enough support, the National Deaf Children Society has warned.

According to its new analysis of the Government’s 2019 exam figures, the average Attainment 8 score for deaf children in the West Midlands is 36.1, compared to 48.9 for hearing children.

As deaf pupils anxiously await their grades in 2020, the charity also fears that because coronavirus has severely affected the support available during a crucial period of their education, the gap could grow wider still.

The charity says that the problem starts at the very beginning of education, with many deaf children falling behind their classmates as early as their first year at school. Just a third of deaf children in the West Midlands achieve a good level of development after Reception year, compared to three quarters of hearing children.

The charity says that deafness is not a learning disability, so the gap in results is down to a lack of support caused by the Government’s ineffective education policy and its failure to tackle the key challenges affecting deaf children's education.

It is also concerned that deaf children have been seriously disadvantaged because the coronavirus pandemic made it much more difficult for them to get support from the key staff they rely on.

In addition, many resources that schools were offering for learning at home were simply not accessible to deaf pupils, often lacking subtitles or translations into British Sign Language. As a result, the charity is calling on councils to look closely at how it will provide for deaf children as they return to school, making sure that any catch-up programmes are accessible and that key staff return as soon as they can.

It also wants the Department for Education to introduce a bursary to train hundreds more specialist teachers to provide crucial one-on-one support for deaf children. Martin Thacker, Deputy Director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“Right from the start of their education, thousands of deaf children in the West Midlands are achieving less than their hearing classmates because they don’t get the support they need.

“We know that councils are under incredible pressure during coronavirus, but there’s now a golden opportunity to set this right and make a real difference to deaf children’s lives as they return to school.

“This will involve providing the necessary resources for people working with deaf children and young people, helping schools to introduce accessible catch-up lessons and reinstating the in-class support deaf children need as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“With the right support, deaf children can achieve anything, so even in these difficult times, they must still get the chance reach their full potential.

“If any deaf young person is struggling to access support, or they want to appeal their GCSE grades this year, I’d urge them to get in touch with us immediately so we can help.”


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