Fears deaf children are left behind as ‘vital services’ face cuts in South Tyneside

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Concerns have been raised that deaf children are being left behind due to cuts to education budgets.

The money available to teach deaf youngsters in South Tyneside has been slashed by more than £34,000 in just five years.

And according to a leading charity, it means the pupils could be a whole grade behind their non-deaf peers by the time they take their GCSEs.

Alison Lawson, North East regional director at the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), said: “With the right services made available throughout their education, including effective technology and specialist teaching staff, every deaf child can reach their goals.

“However, Government data shows that on average, deaf children in the North East will fall a whole grade behind their classmates when they take their GCSEs.

“Deaf children clearly require more support in our area, not less.

“It is crucial that local councils continue to fund these vital services to ensure that every deaf child in Sunderland and South Tyneside gets the best possible start in life.”

The charity estimates there are 164 deaf children in South Tyneside, out of a total of 2,335 in the North East as a whole.

The cash for their education in the borough has fallen from £500,970 in 2013/14 to £466,346 in 2017/18.

However, the same period has only seen a slight fall in the number of teaching and other support staff available to them, down to 15 in April from 17 in 2013.

Coun Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Our dedicated Hearing Impaired Service follows national recommendations on the provision of specialist teachers and assistants in supporting those with sensory impairments so that they can reach their full potential in school as well as any other child.

“It is important to note that South Tyneside is the third hardest hit council financially in the country for the period 2010 to 2016.

“We now have 54% less to spend on helping the people of South Tyneside.

“That is £746 less for each household, a staggering £402 worse off than the national average.

“Despite this we remain committed to ensuring that children and their families get access to the support they need and are entitled to receive.”

According to the NDCS, in 2013 57 per cent of deaf children failed to achieve 5 GCSEs, including English and Maths, at grades A* to C in 2013, compared to 30 per cent of other children.

The charity also stresses deafness ‘is not a learning disability’ and ‘there is no reason why the majority of deaf children should achieve any less than hearing children’.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service