Author: Sally Weale
Posted on: The Guardian | April 14th, 2018
More than a third of councils in England are cutting educational support totalling £4m for deaf children, according to figures obtained by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).
The figures, gained through freedom of information requests, show that councils in these areas are cutting 10% on average from deaf children’s services, which the charity warns are already near breaking point.
In the last four years, one in 10 specialist teachers of the deaf have been cut, the charity claims. Meanwhile, deaf children are falling behind at every stage of school, and at GCSE two-thirds of deaf children fail to achieve a grade 5 in both English and maths – a key government target.
The NDCS said it had received responses from 122 councils, of which 45 said they were making cuts between 2017-18 and 2018-19.
According to the charity’s figures, Blackpool reported the biggest cut of 36%, (£87,000) out of the budget for deaf children, while Blackburn and Darwen reported a 31% cut (£265,000) and in Cornwall deaf children’s services are losing £215,000, or 20% of their budget.
The cuts come as councils across England struggle to meet growing demand for support for children with special needs.
Susan Daniels, the NDCS chief executive, said: “Deaf children can achieve anything other children can, but to do this it is crucial they get the right support. Despite councils having a legal duty to support deaf children, we are seeing the vital support system that they rely on for their education torn apart.”
The Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick chair of the all-party parliamentary group on deafness, said the figures should “shame us all. The incredible potential of deaf children is being extinguished because the system that supports them is being completely undermined.”
Richard Watts, the chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “We have made it clear for some time now that there must be additional and ongoing funding from the government to enable us to support high-needs children and their families. Otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and these children could miss out on a mainstream education.”