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Deaf to pleas

The article, "Deaf children 'damaged by system'" (TES, October 18), quite rightly raises the current serious state of educational provision for deaf children in the UK. The local management of schools, local government re-organisation and, in particular, the reduction in local education authority central funds for specialist support services is radically affecting the capacity of teachers of the deaf to provide sufficient teaching time and appropriate equipment for deaf pupils and students.

The position is further exacerbated by the inadequate funding mechanism to train teachers to become qualified teachers of the deaf, and the lack of proper conditions of employment as well as an inadequate career structure.

The restrictions on staffing are now leading many heads of services for hearing-impaired pupils to make decisions about which types of deaf pupils can and cannot be supported.

The reduction in central funds is also having an impact on the amount of money available for specialist residential school placements. These schools provide an extension to the services which can be provided locally, offering a common communication philosophy and suitable peer groups. The result is unnecessary confrontation between parents, LEA officers and service staff over allocation of funds and places.

Choice for parents of children with low incidence special educational needs does not exist. Government recognition and action concerning the present difficulties is long overdue.

E MOORE Immediate past president British Association of Teachers of the Deaf Wells Lodge, Church Close Nr Bicester, Oxon.

* The National Deaf Children's Society was inadvertently referred to as the National Association for Deaf Children in the article mentioned above. We apologise for this error: Editor.

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