Council cuts leaving deaf children at breaking point

Figures obtained by the National Deaf Children’s Society have shown that more than a third of councils are cutting educational support, totalling £4 million, for deaf children.

Councils in these areas are cutting 10 per cent on average from deaf children’s services, which the NCDS warns are already near breaking point having witnessed specialist teachers cut and deaf children falling behind at every stage of school.

According to the charity’s figures, Blackpool reported the biggest cut of 36 per cent, (£87,000) out of the budget for deaf children, while Blackburn and Darwen reported a 31 per cent cut (£265,000) and in Cornwall deaf children’s services are losing £215,000, or 20 per cent of their budget.

Susan Daniels, the NDCS chief executive, said: “Deaf children can achieve anything other children can, but to do this it is crucial they get the right support. Despite councils having a legal duty to support deaf children, we are seeing the vital support system that they rely on for their education torn apart.”

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils know that deafness can make life incredibly difficult for some children who experience it, and take their responsibilities to support not just deaf children, but all those with special educational needs or disabilities, through education, extremely seriously.

"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, otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and these children could miss out on a mainstream education. This is why we are calling for an urgent review of funding to meet the unprecedented rise in demand for support from children with special educational needs and disabilities.”