The local authority system of support for deaf children is in ‘complete disarray’ as the number of specialist teachers is dramatically cut, a deafness charity warns.
New research supported by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has revealed councils have slashed numbers of specialist Teachers of the Deaf by 14% in the last seven years.
These cuts have been made despite the fact there has been a 31% increase in the number of deaf children, bringing the total to 45,000.
The research, which was published by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education (CRIDE), also found that 15% of councils have one specialist teacher for every 100 students.
The shortage of teachers is likely to increase, the research suggests, as 57% of existing specialist staff are due to retire in the next 10 to 15 years, and one in three councils have found it difficult to recruit new specialist teaching staff.
‘The evidence couldn’t be clearer. From every angle and at every turn, a whole generation of deaf children will have their futures decimated if the Government doesn’t act before it’s too late,’ said Susan Daniels, the chief executive of the NDCS.
‘We already have too few specialist Teachers of the Deaf across England, but with 60% due to retire in the next 10 to 15 years, the Government’s current complacency is a complete dereliction of duty.’
The charity is calling on the Government to set up a centralised bursary to fund trainee Teachers of the Deaf, with a recruitment drive to get more of them into the classroom.
They are also calling on the Department for Education to properly fund the education of deaf children.
Responding to the research, Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Children and Young People Board, said: ‘We have made it clear for some time now that there must be additional and on-going funding from the Government to enable us to support high-needs children and their families.
‘Children's services currently face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. The recent Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement provided no new money for these vital services.
‘The upcoming final settlement must urgently address this. If it doesn't, some councils may struggle to meet their statutory responsibilities.’