Only just over a third of deaf children (36.3 per cent) in England have left secondary school having hit national GCSE benchmarks, according to the latest Department of Education (DfE) figures. This compares with 65.3 per cent of their hearing classmates.
Alongside these results, a recent report issued by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) on behalf of the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE) shows that England’s local authorities have reported a continued drop in the numbers of qualified Teachers of the Deaf.
The NDCS report indicates the lowest ever number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf, which has dropped to 999. At the same time, the number of deaf children in England identified by local authorities has risen to over 40,600 this year, up seven per cent from 2013.
The situation is only going to get worse for England’s deaf children, the NDCS believes, as over half of all Teachers of the Deaf are due to retire in the next ten to 15 years.
Elayne Nunan’s 16-year-old daughter, Jodie, has moderate hearing loss in both ears and is preparing to sit her GCSE exams in June. Elayne says that her daughter has never received the help she needs to do well and was turned down by the local authority when she applied for specialist support. “Time and again I’ve raised concerns and begged for help, knowing how badly she was struggling and failing to keep up with her classmates”, says Elaine. She is not optimistic about how her daughter will fare in her exams. “If Jodie had received the extra help that I was fighting for, who knows what she could have achieved and where life could have taken her”, she says.
Commenting on the recently released figures, Susan Daniels, CEO of the NDCS called on the Government to clarify how it will hold local authorities to account for the apparent under-performance of deaf children. “Deafness is not a learning disability so having a widening gap in GCSE attainment is simply unacceptable. The dwindling support from local authorities for qualified deaf teachers is resulting in deaf children being set up to fail”, she said.