GCSE results: Call for support as deaf pupils get one grade lower on average than hearing classmates

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Russell Hookey

Deaf children continue to be failed by the education system - and can expect their GCSE results to be on average a whole grade lower than their hearing classmates, new research shows.

Charities say obstacles as simple as extra noise in the classroom, or a teacher turning away from the class while speaking can make huge differences to outcomes for children with hearing loss, deafness or who rely on lip reading.

The National Deaf Children's Society has released new figures showing that on average, deaf children achieved a GCSE Grade 4, compared to a higher Grade 5 by their peers.

The charity says that as deafness is not a learning disability, there is no reason for lower achievement among deaf pupils - and is now calling for more support and better training for teachers.

Mary Shaw, 16, from Stowmarket in Suffolk, struggles in a mainstream school and wants teachers to have a better understanding of how to communicate with pupils who rely on lip reading.

Speaking ahead of receiving her results on Thursday, Mary admitted she was not feeling optimistic.

"I'm not very confident because of overcrowding, of the noise," she said. "The normal student is getting higher grades, like Grade 9 or A plus but in deaf students the average grade is 5 or 4."

Mary hopes her GCSE results will get her on a college course and she would eventually like to become a zoo keeper Credit: ITV News Anglia

Her mother Angie Shaw is calling for teachers to be given more training on how to teach pupils with hearing loss.

"When I had conversations with individual teachers they were wanting to help but in a class when there's 15-20 kids they haven't always got the time to help Mary's needs specifically," she said.

"Without them having a lived experience of what deafness is, or even a witnessed experience, you don't fully appreciate that turning your back on a deaf student impedes that student's ability to understand what's going on the lesson."

The National Deaf Children's Society said deaf young people were being failed by the education system.

The society is urging the government to level the playing field for deaf children and provide them with better support at school and to invest in more specially trained teachers of the deaf, whose numbers have declined by 17% over the last decade.

Mike Hobday, director of policy and campaigns at the society, said: "These figures are yet further proof that our education system is consistently failing deaf children.

"The current setup is simply not fit for purpose and without targeted investment in teachers of the deaf and other frontline staff, nothing will change.

"Deafness isn't a learning disability and there's no reason why deaf children should achieve less than hearing children. The issue is clearly a lack of support."

The government is currently reviewing how children with special educational needs and disabilities are supported in schools as part of its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) review.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Our SEND and alternative provision green paper proposals will build on this support, aiming to change the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive.

"This includes through earlier intervention, improved targeted support and better workforce training."

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