Special education - Clear signals

5th September 2008 at 01:00
Four in every 1,000 pupils have difficulty hearing. And in primaries that figure could be even higher. Biddy Passmore reports on techniques for getting the message across to all

When you're talking to your class, do you stand rooted to the spot? Or might you turn away while talking and write something on the board? Even, perhaps, pace up and down between the desks, gesticulating or clasping your hands behind your back like the Duke of Edinburgh?

For the sake of the deaf children who may be in your class, please don't move about too much. A teacher whose face - and especially lips - move out of sight is a teacher that hearing-impaired pupils cannot understand, says Lorna Simpson, education manager of the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS).

This is one of the key tips for teachers to be found in new resources for teachers being introduced by the NDCS this autumn. The society wants to make sure that teachers are equipped to deal with the estimated four in every 1,000 pupils whose hearing is impaired, in either one ear or both. In primary schools, the figure is likely to be much higher because of the prevalence of glue ear.

More than 80 per cent of deaf children now attend mainstream schools. Yet only one in three children classified as deaf on their school's special needs register gets five or more A to C grades at GCSE, compared with more than half of all hearing children.

Lorna, who has taught in mainstream classes and in specialist units, says that teachers should:

- Make sure they face the class when talking so that pupils can lip- read.

- Not cover their mouth with their hands.

- Stop talking while they are writing on the board.

- Not walk around the class while talking and avoid standing in front of the window, because their face is in shadow.

- Make sure that key topic words and objectives are written on the board.

- Use images, videos, demonstration models and drama wherever possible.

As Lorna points out, these techniques would benefit many other pupils, including those who have trouble concentrating.

Three resources are available (free) from the NDCS this month. They are:

- The Deaf Friendly Teachers' Training Pack. This series of PowerPoint presentations will enable teachers of deaf children and special needs co- ordinators to train school staff in such areas as understanding deafness and technology.

- The Starting Schools Pack, which is an amalgamation of all NDCS schools resources that includes information on bullying, understanding deafness and deaf-friendly teaching.

- Moving On, a new curriculum framework for deaf pupils in Years 10 and 11, to help them make informed choices about their future education and employment. It covers topics such as personal finance and aids for communication.

For more information on the resources and how to obtain them, visit www.ndcs.org.uk or call the NDCS Freephone helpline on 0808 800 8880.

A deaf awareness DVD for mainstream schools will also be available in October.

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