Deaf children under-achieving in A-levels, charity warns

By Catherine Wylie, PA

Deaf children are struggling at every stage of their education with 44% of deaf pupils achieving two A-levels compared to 63% of hearing pupils, a charity said.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) said the problem affects deaf children across England throughout their education because they arrive at secondary school having already fallen behind.

The charity wants Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to introduce a bursary to train hundreds of specialist teachers who can provide one-on-one support for deaf children, as well as their families and teachers, from diagnosis right through to the end of their education.

The NDCS analysed the Department for Education’s 2018 exam results for pupils up to the age of 19, and found it showed that just 44% of deaf pupils achieved two A-levels or equivalent, compared to 63% of hearing pupils.

On average, deaf children also fell an entire grade behind their hearing classmates at GCSE-level, the charity said.

(PA Graphics)

Less than three quarters of them (73%) will gain five GCSEs or equivalent by age 19, compared to 88% of hearing children.

The situation is worse for English and Maths, with only half (52%) of deaf pupils gaining five GCSE passes or equivalent when those two subjects are included, compared to 76% for hearing pupils, the charity said.

Less than half of deaf children (43%) reach the expected standard for reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to three quarters (74%) of other children.

There are similar concerns at Key Stage 1, with just over half (53%) of deaf children reaching the expected standard compared to 84% of their classmates.

The NDCS said deafness is not a learning disability and with the right support, deaf children can achieve the same as their hearing classmates.

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Deaf children arrive at school with amazing potential only to begin a lifetime of being left behind.

“While some of them are achieving incredible results and going on to their dream jobs, these results show that many more are being completely failed by the system on which they rely.

“For years the deepening crisis in deaf education has been brushed off with the Government pretending it didn’t exist.

“However, the Government’s own data now shows in black and white how dire the situation is for deaf children.

“The new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has a golden opportunity to change deaf children’s lives.

“He must immediately invest in their support, reverse the devastating cuts to their specialist teachers and finally act where so many of his predecessors have failed to.”

There are more than 50,000 deaf children in the UK. In England, there are 45,000, the charity said.

Steve Reed MP, Labour’s shadow minister for children, said: “Tens of thousands of deaf children are being let down at every level by a Government that has allowed deaf education to fall into crisis. No society that loves its children should treat them like this.”