Deaf children 'at risk' under plans to cut support

The National Deaf Children's Society fear a reduction in support staff will be harmful to deaf children Credit: Calendar

More than 200 deaf children in Kirklees could be at risk of failing at school because of council cuts, according to The National Deaf Children's Society.

The number of Teachers of the Deaf is being reduced by a third.

Alison Lawson, Regional Director for The National Deaf Children's Society, said:

"At the moment Teachers of the Deaf support 235 deaf children in Kirklees. These children and their families need more support not less.

"But these cuts are ignoring the individual needs of deaf children, threatening their speech and language development, educational attainment, aspirations and well being - ultimately setting them up to fail.

"We are calling on the council to urgently review these cuts and give deaf children in Kirklees the same chance as any other child."

However, Kirklees Council says the cuts won't affect the children and have simply come because of a fall in demand:

“Our staffing levels for children with a hearing impairment will still comfortably meet the need in Kirklees.

"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 for these services has fallen.

"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."

Kirklees Council currently have 44 specialist places available for children with a hearing impairment, but only 20 of these are taken.

They say that there will be no cuts to Special Educational Needs- but simply a 'reorganisation' of services.

Campaigners against the reduction in teaching staff will be in Dewsbury Market today to collect signatures for their petition.

Their aim is to collect 3,000 signatures by 28th August so they can force the issue to be discussed at the full Kirklees Council meeting in September.