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Parliament: Deaf Education, No Official Statistics


Deaf children's education or rather the standards, has been a subject that has been buried under the carpet by consecutive governments. Its a subject that plays like a broken record, and the same mistakes made decade after decade, with no-one actually listening. There was a question in parliament around educational attainment:

Stewart Jackson (Whip, Whips; Peterborough, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

(1) what proportion of deaf and hard of hearing children gained five or more GCSEs at grade C and above in the Peterborough City Council area in the last year for which figures are available;

(2) what proportion of children gained at least two A-levels in the Peterborough City Council area in the last year for which figures are available;

(3) what proportion of deaf and hard of hearing children gained at least two A-levels in the Peterborough City Council area in the last year for which figures are available.

Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families; South Dorset, Labour)

94.6 per cent. of candidates at the end of A/AS level (or equivalent) study achieved at least two A-levels in Peterborough local authority by the end of 2006/07.

Figures for deaf and hard of hearing children are available only at disproportionate cost.

There really cannot be no disproportionate cost here, it would just require an additional box on some already produced form. The real cost, the government doesn't want to acknowledge its failure. To do so, it would perhaps mean that it would have to fix it. Statistics aren't so easily buried. Conrad (1979)*, puts the reading age for deaf school leavers being less than 9 years.

In 1998, Powers and Gregory** concluded, that there has been no overall improvement in the achievement of deaf and hearing-impaired students since Conrad’s 1979 survey.

Whilst the collection of statistics might be a cost, acknowledgment of the issue from a public body, and more to the point addressing the underlying problems longer term is going to be much cheaper. A literate and educated deaf population is preferred, over and above one that is confined to a lifetime of relying on the welfare state. Of course, the cynic in me governments are only interested in short term targets, i.e. 5 years and under. They're just concerned with winning the next election.

They Work For You

* Conrad R. (1979) The Deaf Schoolchild (London: Harper and Row)
** Powers, S. and Gregory, S. "The educational achievement of deaf children: A literature review" Deafness and Education International, 1999, 1(1): 1-10

Comments (4)

But that is exactly where the cost is disproportionate - they have to trace back all of the children with results and ask them if they identify themselves as Deaf or hard of hearing.

The next question should be why they are not already collecting this data?

Good point. However I am constantly unsurprised by how crap our government is. Yup, sweeping under the carpet AGAIN. Depressing!

I would have thought that each school has a learning support department which deals with children who are deaf or hard of hearing - there's no good reason why a survey could not be sent out to these departments concerning their children. Surely the Local Education Authorities get regular reports on these children in any case, so this idea of 'disproportionate cost' seems ridiculous.

This is something I've been working on in my job at NDCS (for my sins, etc.) Until very recently, the Department did not publish any data at all on how deaf children did nationally. We now have some figures - off the top of my head, deaf children are 42% less likely to get 5 good GCSEs than all children. And deaf children are 300% more likely to leave primary school without a basic understanding of literacy. There's a few more stats in the NDCS campaign report on education, Must do better! (available at http://www.ndcs.org.uk/document.rm?id=3393)

Data is broken down at a regional level but not by local authority level. The Department tells us that because deafness is a low incidence disability, there are too few deaf children in each local authority to be able to provide meaningful statistics. The other issue is that if there are less than 5 people in a sample, the Department will not release any data about that sample because it (apparently) becomes possible to identify individuals and thus, breaches their privacy, confidentiality, etc. I suspect this is why the Government won't say how deaf children in Peterborough are doing. We're trying to get the Department to present the data in different ways - for example, by showing the data for the past three years so that the sample will be larger, to get around this.

Worth also mentioning that the data we have only captures information about deaf children who have a statement or who are at 'School Action Plus' - any deaf child who is not getting any formal support in this way is not excluded in the data. They could be doing better, they could be doing worse. Like many things, we don't know...

Legislation was passed earlier this year (the Special Educational Needs (Information) Bill) which requires the Department to collect and publish more data about children with special educational needs - we're hoping this will improve matters.

It's all pretty frustrating really - that in 2008, we don't have a clear sense of how deaf children are doing in schools.

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