Worrying figures for deaf school children in Scotland

Less than one in three deaf pupils in Scotland get to university and one in ten leave school with no qualifications at all.

According to findings, less than one in three deaf pupils (29%) go to university, compared to almost half (45%) of their hearing classmates.

The gap is even wider for gaining Highers and Advanced Highers, with less than half of deaf students (43%) achieving both, compared to almost three quarters (71%) of hearing students.

Almost one in ten deaf young people (8%) are also leaving school without any qualifications, compared to one in a hundred (1%) of their hearing peers.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says the children are achieving lower grades because they are being starved of support and begin a “lifetime of being left behind” when they start school. Many deaf children now fall short of their potential at every stage of their education.

Scotland’s 3,300 deaf children have already lost nearly a third (29%) of their specialist teachers in the last eight years. In addition, nearly half of those remaining are due to retire in the next 10-15 years, leaving the profession staring down the barrel of a recruitment crisis.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says an immediate cash injection is urgently required to boost the skills of existing support workers, allowing key support available for all deaf children.

It also wants a bursary to train new specialist teachers to avert a recruitment crisis to be introduced. These new fully qualified professionals would provide crucial one-on-one support for deaf children, families and classroom teachers from a child’s diagnosis right through to the end of their education.

Alasdair O’Hara, who leads the National Deaf Children’s Society’s campaigning work in Scotland, said: ‘Deaf children arrive at school with amazing potential only for many to be left behind and let down by the education system they rely on.

‘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.’

Shelly Cornick and her daughter Katy, nine, live in Kilmarnock. Katy has a moderate hearing loss in one ear and wears a hearing aid. Her family recently also discovered she has a learning delay. She doesn’t get much support at school.

Shelly said: ‘The lack of support Katy has received has had a huge impact on her learning. She’s a very quiet girl in class and when she’s finding things hard, she won’t ask for help so she gets left behind. She receives support from the East Ayrshire team and from classroom assistants, but only a few times a week and it’s not specifically for deaf children. She only gets tracking once a term from the Teacher for the Deaf.

‘I’m terrified of her going to secondary school because she’s only moderately deaf in one ear, so she won’t get the support she requires.

‘There needs to be more support for people to train to work with deaf children. I want to be a communication support worker, but so far I have paid nearly ÂŁ800 and to get to level 3, which is what is needed, I will need to pay another ÂŁ1400. This is why there is a lack of workers that are trained to work with deaf children.’

The National Deaf Children’s Society helps deaf children and young people thrive by providing impartial, practical and emotional support to them and their families, and by challenging governments and society to meet their needs.
For more information visit www.ndcs.org.uk.