Schools are 'failing' deaf pupils, says charity

Ahead of exam results day, analysis finds deaf pupils are eight times more likely to leave school with no qualifications

Schools are 'failing' deaf pupils, says National Deaf Children's Society charity

A charity is calling for action to address the achievement gap between deaf and hearing pupils – including a bursary to train specialist teachers – after an analysis found that 8 per cent of deaf students left school without qualifications last year, compared with 1 per cent of their hearing classmates.

The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) criticised a reduction in support for deaf pupils and said many were being "left behind".

As well finding that eight times as many deaf pupils were leaving school without qualifications than their peers, the charity's analysis of Scottish government figures also showed that under a third of deaf pupils (29 per cent) went to university, compared with almost half (45 per cent) of their hearing classmates.


Long read: The school where hearing loss is no barrier to success

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Related: National special schools battle to fill places


The statistics also suggest fewer deaf school-leavers entered work in 2017-18 – 21 per cent, compared with 29 per cent of their hearing peers.

More deaf students went to college than university at 34.2 per cent, compared with 18.6 per cent of hearing school-leavers.

Under half (43 per cent) of deaf pupils gained both highers and advanced highers, compared with 71 per cent of hearing students.

The charity said Scotland's 3,300 deaf children had lost nearly a third (29 per cent) of their specialist teachers in the past eight years.

The organisation added that a "recruitment crisis" was brewing as nearly half of the remaining specialist teachers were due to retire in the next 10-15 years.

It called for the Scottish government to introduce a bursary for specialist teachers to avert a recruitment crisis and enable every deaf child to have tailored classroom support.

Alasdair O'Hara, head of the NDCS's  campaign in Scotland, said some deaf children were achieving excellent results and going to their dream jobs but "many more"  were being "let down by the education system they rely on".

He added: "We know that every deaf child can thrive at school if they receive the right support. But until the funding for that is put in place, many will continue to struggle.

"Despite the best intentions of the Scottish government, the system is still failing and so much more needs to be done to make sure we are getting it right for every deaf child in Scotland.

"The Scottish government must act quickly by investing in deaf education and introducing a bursary to ensure that the right support is available in our classrooms.

"Every child deserves the chance to shine at school, and deaf children are no exception."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We want all children and young people to get the support that they need to reach their full learning potential, including those with sensory impairments.

"The Additional Support for Learning Act places education authorities under duties to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.

"The Scottish government provides over £500,000 to voluntary sector organisations to support children and young people with sensory impairment and £150,000 to the Scottish Sensory Centre to support training to increase the capacity of staff in schools to provide effective support to pupils with a sensory impairment."

Tes Scotland will be live blogging on exam results day, Tuesday 6 August. See updates on Twitter @TesScotland 

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