Education news

New report shows more specialist support needed for deaf children

The National Deaf Children's Society provides workshops in schools

NEW specialist teachers for deaf children need to be trained now to avert a crisis, a charity has warned.

The number of young people with hearing loss in the north is increasing while the figure for specialists is in decline.

Research published by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE) shows "a disaster waiting to happen" in the education of 1,687 pupils.

The number of deaf children in schools is growing annually - 8 per cent in the past year.

Since the CRIDE survey started in 2011, the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf has fallen by 19 per cent.

More than half of these will retire in the next 10-15 years.

About seven in 10 deaf children are educated in mainstream schools. Classroom staff typically will not have specific expertise, meaning advice and input of qualified Teachers of the Deaf is vital. Without support, many risk falling behind in their education, experts have warned.

The National Deaf Children's Society has now called for more specialists to be trained. It also wants Northern Ireland to be included in a UK-wide bursary scheme to fund a new generation of teachers.

Alasdair O'Hara, the charity's head of policy and influencing for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said he was concerned.

"When deaf children don't get the right educational support it means struggling to communicate, falling behind at school, failing to achieve your potential. Deafness is not a learning disability, and yet deaf children fall a whole grade behind their hearing friends at school. This will only get worse unless government releases additional funding to address this impending workforce crisis," he said.

"There is absolutely no reason why deaf children can't achieve as well as any other child, if they are given the right support. From training up classroom teachers on communication with deaf children, to doing intensive 1 to 1 tuition, to organising specialist technology, Teachers of the Deaf are the key to unlocking a deaf child's future.

"We need a long term plan to train new Teachers of the Deaf, with a recruitment drive to get more of them into the classroom. We are calling for a central bursary fund that teachers from Northern Ireland can access, to train new Teachers of the Deaf. The Department for Education has a responsibility to ensure deaf children get the support they need."

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