News headlines in the UK’s print and online media, present deaf children as ‘failing to learn’ at local mainstream schools. Deaf education is multi-faceted, so let’s unpack a few points.
Detection Age Impacts Literacy Skills
Recently, a survey of 129 oral and signing deaf children aged 10 to 11 at schools in the UK, by Nuffield Foundation and City University of London, produced the results below.
With 49,000 deaf children in the UK having severe hearing difficulties, the researchers noted:
“Earlier identification of deafness and advances in hearing aids and cochlear implants have undoubtedly improved the outlook for deaf children, but as more deaf children than previously have excellent speech and now attend mainstream education, there is a danger that teachers may overlook their need for support.
More specifically, the researchers concluded that:
- Literacy scores for both oral and signing deaf children were lower than expected. This may be due to patchy intervention after the childrens’ deafness was detected.
- Forty-eight per cent of oral children and 82% of signing children read below grade level, with signing children of signing parents scoring similarly to oral deaf children.
- Spelling scores were slightly stronger than literacy for both oral and signing groups, however language skills were notably weak across the board.
Cuts to specialist teachers of deaf children featured in The Guardian and The Huff Post (UK version), with Robert Goodwill, UK minister of state for children and families, saying councils got £223 million in extra funding to cover the biggest reforms to special needs education in a generation, with new education, health and care plans tailored to the needs of every child.
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