Two thirds of teachers across the South East say they don’t know how to educate deaf students, a new survey from the National Deaf Children’s Society suggests.
The poll, carried out among 504 of the region’s primary and secondary school teachers, reveals that 67% don’t feel confident they can adapt the curriculum and teach a deaf child effectively.
Almost all respondents (96%) said if they were teaching a deaf pupil, they’d need ongoing support from someone with expert knowledge, such as a Teacher of the Deaf. However, one in three (34%) had received no such support.
There are currently more than 3,000 deaf children in schools across the South West, the vast majority of whom attend mainstream schools.
Even though deafness isn’t a learning disability, deaf children in the region already achieve less than their hearing classmates at every stage of school, including an entire grade lower at GCSE on average.
Disabled children across England are supported by the SEND system, which the Government is set to review later this year, and the National Deaf Children's Society says that more investment in specialist teaching staff is desperately needed.
Without it, the charity says the gap in results between deaf and hearing children will only get wider.
It says any investment must focus on Teachers of the Deaf, who play an instrumental role in deaf children’s lives. In the South West, Teachers of the Deaf have been cut by 22% since 2011.
Martin Thacker, Deputy Director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Thousands of deaf children are walking into classrooms across the South West with a two in three chance that their teacher won’t know how to educate them effectively. This should shock everyone responsible for funding deaf education to their core.
“Teachers across the region are battling incredible pressures every day and they can’t be specialists in every disability, so it’s crucial they get the expert knowledge and support they need. All too often, this simply isn’t being delivered.
“The Government needs to address this quickly and the upcoming SEND review is the perfect opportunity. By investing in more specialist support immediately, we can give every deaf child in the South West the chance to reach their potential.”