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Lancashire County Council cut help for deaf children in schools
SUPPORT for deaf children in schools has been cut by Lancashire County Council, according to a new report.
The National Deaf Children’s Society claims that the county council has lost three specialist teachers and two communication support workers posts this year.
But bosses at Lancashire County Council admitted there had been a reorganisation of the special educational needs department but said no posts had been axed.
They said that figures from the charity’s Stolen Futures report this year dropped from the previous year because reduced support was needed for the 850 deaf children in the county council’s schools.
Hazel Badjie, National Deaf Children’s Society regional director, said: “Even though deafness isn’t a learning disability, deaf children are already underachieving at school. We know that with the right support, deaf children can achieve anything other children can.
“Teachers of the deaf give essential support to deaf children, from making sure that they have the right hearing equipment, to working one to one with them on reading and language skills.”
Ann Pennell, Lancashire County Council's director responsible for children’s disability support, said: “We are very disappointed at the way in which these figures have been construed, as we have not cut the number of staff who give support to children who are deaf or hearing impaired.
“The amount of staff time dedicated to hearing impaired children changes year on year, depending on numbers of children and how much support they need, which varies enormously from child to child.
“This variation is what is reflected in the figures provided. They provide a snapshot of staff time given to hearing impaired children at a particular time and do not mean we have reduced our support.
“Overall, support to deaf children is well regarded in Lancashire and the team has received a national award.”
Emma Bury, business development manager at School of Sign Language Ltd, Blackburn, said: “Deaf children need support to access and understand the curriculum, which gives them equal opportunities to other children.
“Without this specialised support, deaf young people will be isolated within the mainstream setting and struggle to gain qualifications and employment in the future.”
Visit www.ndcs.org.uk/save to sign the petition launched by The National Deaf Children's Society.