Nine out of 10 parents of deaf children are worried about the future of the support their child receives at school, a new survey reveals.
In the poll, released today by the National Deaf Children’s Society, 94 per cent of parents voiced this concern, and 82 per cent said they did not feel there was enough funding for deaf children’s education in their area.
Just 5 per cent of the 1,011 parents surveyed felt the situation had improved for them and their deaf child since reforms to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system in 2014, with almost half saying things had got worse.
The Commons Education Select Committee will meet 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 warns that a funding crisis is decimating the SEND system and the situation risks spiralling out of control.
'A heartbreaking story' for deaf children
"These results tell a heartbreaking story of the state of deaf children’s education in this country," Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children's Society, said.
"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."
She called on the government to set up a fund to train new specialist teachers and plug what she said was a £4 million funding gap in deaf children's services, and said Ofsted should hold councils to account more forcefully.
One parent, whose 9-year-old daughter is deaf and uses cochlear implants, said that funding cuts meant that her support has been cut from 15 hours a week of support from a teaching assistant to just three hours.
“As [she] 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 parent said.
"The government need to realise what is happening on their watch, and need to act before deaf children like Isla have their futures stolen."
Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, said: "My promise to deaf children and their parents all over the country is that I understand your concerns, and I will do everything I can to support you.
“The next Labour government will create a genuinely inclusive national education service for all children.
"We will properly fund our schools and our councils so they can provide dedicated support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and tackle the scandal of children who are falling out of the education system altogether.”
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities, including those who are deaf, is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in education, and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.
“Ninety-four per cent of children who are hearing impaired attend a mainstream school while receiving expert support, and for those with more complex needs there are specialist deaf schools.
“We recognise that local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs, which is why we are monitoring local authority spending decisions and keeping the overall level of funding under review.
"It is also why in 2018-19 councils will receive just under £6 billion of funding for young people with more complex SEND – a £1 billion increase since 2013.”