1. ITV Report

Cuts to numbers of teachers of the deaf

More than 200 children in Kirklees use the Teachers for the Deaf service Photo: Calendar

There is criticism of Kirklees Council for planning to cut the number of deaf children's teachers.

The council had pledged to set up a committee to examine the help deaf children need to succeed at school, following strong opposition from campaigners and parents. But despite agreeing to set up the committee, Kirklees Council has announced the decision over how many teachers will be cut is likely to be made in January, before the committee even has a chance to meet.

Teachers of the Deaf are vital to help deaf children succeed at school, and if this support is cut the council will be setting them up to fail.

Kirklees Council is backtracking on their pledge to get expert groups involved to give their views on the decision, ploughing on with their decision to axe these vital teachers without considering the hundreds of deaf children they are putting at risk.

– Alison Lawson, NDCS Regional Director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber

Parents and campaigners collected more than 4,000 signatures to secure a debate at a full meeting of Kirklees Council in September, after councillors announced their proposals to cut the number of teachers of deaf by a third in Kirklees. Teachers of the Deaf support deaf children to develop speech and language skills, ensure they have the right equipment at school. They also provide advice for parents and teachers in how to communicate with them. In Kirklees 235 deaf children use this service. Teachers of the Deaf go into schools as well as visit children who haven’t yet started school to prepare them for mainstream school.

At the council meeting in September councillors admitted they may not have had the full facts to make a decision on cutting support for deaf children, and pledged to work with Kirklees Deaf Children’s Society (KDCS) and the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to set up a scrutiny committee to get all the facts before any decisions are implemented.

In proposing to cut Teachers of the Deaf by a third we believe the council grossly miscalculated the number of Teachers of the Deaf that are needed. This decision will have a severe impact on deaf children in Kirklees. And now, to make a decision without even listening to the views of the committee shows a complete lack of care for these children and their futures.

– Alison Lawson, NDCS Regional Director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber

Kirklees Council assure they will still meet local need due to a fall in demand.

Our staffing levels for children with a hearing impairment, including screening for new born babies and pre-school children, will still meet local need. The support and teaching for children with a hearing impairment has always been of a high standard, and this will continue to be the case.

The number of Teachers of the Deaf is being reduced by 3.8 posts (from 10.3 to 6.5) because demand has fallen. We currently have 44 specialist places available for children with a hearing impairment, but only 20 of these are taken.

The number of places is being reduced to reflect the fall in demand and it is logical – and also the best use of resources – if a smaller number of places brings a smaller number of staff.

Our commitment to providing specialist support for deaf children is as strong as ever. There will continue to be high quality support – and enough support in terms of teacher numbers - for children in both specialist provision and in a mainstream setting.

Some roles will change so that staff are deployed in other specialist areas where demand is now higher.

This is part of an overall review and no job losses are expected from Special Educational Needs.

We work closely with schools, parents and the NDCS, and a consultation was held so that everyone could influence the decisions being made. There are no cuts to Special Educational Needs – this is a reorganisation and our services are being tailored to individual children.

– Kirklees Council