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July 20, 2010

Milan 1880: ICED 2010 Regrets Milan 1880

Currently the International Congress on Education of the Deaf (ICED) is taking place in Vancouver. The conference website can be found here.

A statement was put forward to the congress, on Milan 1880. This is the draft text via Senan Dunne (which I got last night - about 14 hours ago, as I type):

"…The resolutions of the 1880 congress in Milan:

In 1880, an international congress was held in Milan to discuss the education of the deaf. At that time, the members passed several resolutions that effected the education, and the lives, of Deaf people around the world.

The resolutions:
1. removed the use of sign language from educational programmes for the deaf around the world
2. Contributed detrimentally to the lives of deaf citizens around the world
3. Led to the exclusion of deaf citizens in educational policy and planning in most jurisdictions of the world
4. Prevented deaf citizens from participation in government planning, decision making and funding in areas of employment training, re-training and other aspects of career planning
5. Hindered the abilities of deaf citizens to succeed in various careers and has prevented many of them from following their own aspirations
6. And prevented the opportunity for many deaf citizens to fully demonstrate their cultural and artistic contributions to the diversity of each nation

Therefore, we reject all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan conference in 1880 [about 35 seconds of applause!]

I think there will be more cheering at the end. I’ll start again - all resolutions passed at the ICED Milan conference in 1880 that denied the inclusion of sign language in educational programmes for deaf students. Therefore, we acknowledge and sincerely regret the detrimental effects of the Milan conference. And therefore, we call upon all nations of the world to remember history, and ensure that education programmes accept and respect all languages and forms of communication. Thank you."

This was accepted, and thus a formal apology made to the Deaf community worldwide. It only took 130 years for it to happen.

As late as 1990 (and possibly later), an apology was rejected. A friend said on Facebook earlier:

I attended the ICED in Rochester NY USA in 1990. I remember the uproar when delegates tried to put forward a motion for this apology. The organisers weren't having it. Just took another 20 years for it to happen...

Do not underestimate the significance of this. Will it take away the damage that Deaf people have experienced in the past 130 years? Of course not.

The tone of the resolution, should be given gracefully and received the same. A recognition of such is a statement that history should not be repeated. The absolutely crucial thing is: you cannot regret then go out and continue to make the same blunders you just acknowledged. The impact on this, educators internationally need to reflect on and no child anywhere should be denied sign language.

To those people whose lives have been hurt: yes you got hurt and this is formally recognised. It is time to hold your head up high and one hopes that there is enough space for forgiveness.

The saddest thing in all this? Those people who suffered but did not live to see this regret in their lifetimes. We owe them the future, away from the suffering of the past 130 years.

Elsewhere:
Milan 1880 (a history)
ICED 2010

Update: I got the following e mail, "
I am at ICED now - it is not "apologize" but regret+reject. CED did not agree with "apologize" because they are not a government nor an organisation with a formal structure, but a changing team that just organises a conference. But as you can see it is a strong text that explicitly rejects the pure oralism + gives recommendations - it caused many emotions yesterday, especially amongst older deaf people!"

Apparently the BC Deaf community will issue a press release today. Hope so, something as big as this needs faster press management (due to the scale of the news).

Update 2: here's the PDF link to the resolution (via NAD in USA). About 200 of the 500 participants at ICED have already signed it. Resolution will be taken to WFD 2011 for more signatories.

May 20, 2009

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse: Irish Deaf Schools

commissionchildabuse.gifThe Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, in Ireland was established in 2000, which includes abuse in deaf schools.

The Commission's Report [PDF], [HTML], along with an Executive Summary [PDF], [HTML], has been released.

The Executive Summary mentions deaf schools. Firstly:

Chapter 13 deals with the final Christian Brothers’ School investigated by the Committee, St Joseph’s School for the Deaf, in Cabra. This was not an Industrial School but was a residential school for boys from the age of eight who were profoundly or partially deaf. This school was also investigated on a document only basis. It was the subject of Eastern Health Board Investigations in the 1980s which revealed disturbing levels of sexual abuse and peer sexual activity amongst boys who were resident there. These documents reveal a persistent failure on the part of school Authorities to protect children from bullying and abuse.

In addition, the documents revealed that physical punishment of these children continued into the mid-1990s and that staff were protected by management when physical abuse was discovered.

It is significant that the Industrial Schools owned and managed by the Christian Brothers did not keep a Punishment Book as was required by the Rules.

You can read the full report on St Joseph's School for Deaf Boys, Cabra ('Cabra'), 1857-1999 [PDF], [HTML]

The Executive Summary also touches on further deaf schools:

Chapters 15 and 16 are brief reviews of documentary evidence in relation to two schools that offered residential care to deaf girls: St Mary’s Girls Cabra which was run by the Dominican Order of Nuns and Beechpark run by the Daughters of Liege. Oral hearings were not conducted into these schools and there was not a significant amount of documentary material discovered to the Committee. Most allegations of abuse referred to the harshness with which the policy of oralism was imposed on children who were deaf and who instinctively used sign language as well. Whilst the wisdom of imposing oralism was a separate matter and one which the Committee could not comment on, the methods of enforcing it were at times too severe.

In general however, the standard of care in these schools was good and particular efforts were made to ensure that the children received the best possible education.

In general, girls’ schools were not as physically harsh as boys’ schools and there was no persistent problem of sexual abuse in girls’ schools although there was at best naivete´ and at worst indifference in the way girls were sent out to foster families. A number of girls did experience sexual abuse at the hands of ‘godfathers’ which they were either unable to report or were disbelieved when they did report it.

There was a high level of emotional abuse in girls’ schools, which was a consistent feature of these institutions.

The full reports on St Mary's School for Deaf Girls, Cabra [PDF], [HTML] and Mary Immaculte School for Deaf Children (Beechpark) [PDF] [HTML]

The BBC's website also lists ten of the main findings.

Comment from Alison:
I've not read these reports yet, but firstly I wanted to say those people who spoke out have my respect. I cannot comment in depth (since I've done no reading, nor do I know anything by way of background). However, one thing that did particularly strike me when pulling together this post, was the comment around oralism and its harshness. Is this a first, for such an inclusion into an official document on abuse (please use the comment box)? It also made me think about the law, and how deaf people are rarely listened to. Exactly how many decades have we heard the same complaints around oralism? One has to ask, where's the protection of vulnerable groups and who decides the standards (and the law)? Who is the law to protecting? Perhaps one day, hearing people will start listening to deaf adults, for guidelines. With all the best intentions in the world, hearing perception of the world distorts. A bit like asking those in charge of the workhouse in the last century, "Are you abusing the children in your care?" Of course the answer is always going to be no.

March 13, 2009

Parliament: Deaf Access to Connexions

Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham & Morden, Labour)

Nikita is 17 years old and profoundly deaf. She moved to my constituency in September with her Gurkha family. Despite having been allocated a Connexions adviser and a social worker, and having had assessments and meetings, she still does not have the one thing that she wants: a college place. May we find the time for a debate on how effective the Connexions service actually is, and how it interfaces with social services departments?

Harriet Harman (Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons; Camberwell & Peckham, Labour)

I suggest that my hon. Friend considers seeking a meeting with the relevant Minister about her constituent, whom she is backing so actively. She may also consider making the general issue the subject of a Westminster Hall debate.

Comment:
What a surprise! Many deaf people can fall outside the net when it comes to mainstream services basically not having a clue. Call me cynic, but I've seen this one once too many times.

August 18, 2008

Monkhouse Deaf Support Centre Closes

MonkhousePrimarySchool.jpgGOD was quoted in The News Guardian last week, around the closure of Monkhouse Deaf Support Centre, Tyneside. The decline is down to:

More and more parents of deaf children are choosing normal schools causing a drop in the number of people using the centre, the council claims.

The use of labelling such as "normal schools", is derogatory and can be standard terminology in education. In fact, much of education terminology is littered with terms that really need to be thrown in the bin yesterday, but that's a post for another day.

For instance, I attended a mainstream school for my entire schooling, but it doesn't give me or anyone else the green light to label this as normal. Take a parallel, Welsh language schools in Wales are not called "special schools" and their English counterparts "normal". It starts to place a value judgment on modes of education, and with it stigamises certain classes of people. When you apply such standards, and a lack of acceptance for difference then it can creep in and influence choices. Perhaps these might be correct choices, but ultimately the welfare of the deaf child always has to be paramount.

The article quoted from this post:

Authors of the Grumpy Old Deafies blog, Alison Bryan and Jen Dodds said: "It ultimately could lead to damage for some deaf children's education.

"With the closure of such resources we enter a spectrum of a lack of choice and this ultimately has implications on children.

"Inclusion is a policy that has been driven by disabled people and ultimately led to a be all and end all approach within education policy.

"What disabled people have failed to understand is that deaf people do not share the same history education wise."

Ask the Readers:
What do you think of this decision?

See also:
North Tyneside Council are delighted at closure of deaf support centre

July 11, 2008

Parliament: Deaf Education, No Official Statistics

logo-dcsf.gif

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.

Source:
Hansard
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

May 15, 2008

BSL Recognition: Tender Specification from the Department of Children, Schools & Families

logo-dcsf.gif

Last week we blogged about a forthcoming tender from the Department for Children, Schools and Families in respect of a project to improve access to and demand for BSL.

The tender has now been released and we've taken liberty to upload it here [Word], so that anyone can access. The specification is described as:

COMPETITIVE GRANT SPECIFICATION FOR A PROJECT TO IMPROVE BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE PROVISION AND STATUS FOR FAMILIES OF DEAF AND HEARING IMPAIRED CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE.

More information is given on the aims and objectives of the project:

Aim
The overall project aim is to improve British Sign Language provision and status for families of deaf and hearing impaired children and young people

Objectives
In order to achieve the aim, the project should deliver the following objectives:
• increase awareness of British Sign Language and choice for families with deaf and hearing impaired children to learn and communicate using BSL;
• increase demand from the children’s workforce to improve BSL skills, including to higher levels, to meet the needs of BSL users and ultimately improve Every Child Matters outcomes;
• increase the availability of BSL tutors, courses and interpreters, including to higher levels;
• demonstrate how existing centres of excellence in BSL, such as deaf special schools, specialist units in mainstream schools or BSL course providers, can play a key role in achieving the project’s aims; and
• demonstrate how progress can be sustainable beyond the project’s life within the current and planned early years, schools and post-16 funding arrangements and disability legislation requirements on service providers.

This project could be delivered in one or more areas or regions to test a particular approach and should be expected to last for a two year period. Given the breadth of the project, proposals from consortia would be particularly welcome, reflecting the breadth of experiences in this area.

This funding is for two years, with a possibility of the project being extended for a further year.

There is a meeting for potential bidders day from 10.00-12.00 on 23 May, details of how to register your interest is included in the Word document.

The closing date for tender applications is 12 noon on the 4 July 2008.

Ask the Readers:
What kind of projects would you like to be considered? Should they be deaf led? Do you think this means BSL recognition? Throw us your thoughts in the comments.

Source:
BSL Specification [Word]

See also:
BSL Recognition: Tender to Improve Access & Demand for BSL

May 3, 2008

Deafness Matters

I was just rooting through Teachers TV for any more programmes around deaf issues. The only ones there, appear to be old, but not programmes we've covered on here before.

Here's Deafness Matters:

The project was developed by Fran Simmons and Erika Stevenson for young people from the Oxfordshire Deaf Children's Society.

You can buy this dvd from here.

Whilst such a portrayal from young people should be encouraged, you can't help but noticing the underlying hearing analysis of deaf people. For a start, will someone please tell that instructor to actually look at deaf people when talking, and it also underlines the need for role models. Who is shaping the self esteem of these young people to demand to be equals instead of fitting into a hearing world?

Its good that Teachers TV is carrying such programmes, and should only be encouraged. They do have other programmes on their website relating to deaf children in education, unfortunately none of these are subtitled. Nothing about us, without us. Note to Teachers TV - please subtitle these videos, I for one would like to watch them. Details of these programmes is available in the extended entry of this post.

See elsewhere:
Oxford Mail - DVD highlights deafness issues

See also:
Welcome 2 My Deaf World, an Australian film

Continue reading "Deafness Matters" »

April 8, 2008

Northern Ireland Assembly: Further Education Provision for Young People with Disabilities

A debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly centred around the following motion:

That this Assembly expresses concern at the lack of further education courses specifically targeted at young people with learning and physical disabilities; recognises the lack of provision for disabled young people over the age of 19; and calls on the Minister for Employment and Learning to provide sufficient further educational opportunities to ensure that these young people achieve their full potential. –— [Mrs O’Neill.]

Which amendment was: Leave out all after “expresses” and insert

“its continued commitment to securing training and employment opportunities where appropriate for young people with disabilities; and awaits the outcome of the review of such provision undertaken by the Minister for Employment and Learning.” — [Mr B McCrea.] [Mr McClarty]

Within this debate, a specific mention of deaf people was made, by Alastair Ross (DUP)

Along with many Members, I have asked questions on widening access to courses and was informed that, in 2006, students at further education colleges included 488 blind or partially sighted people and 839 who were deaf or had hearing impediments. Those are people who can go into mainstream courses if certain provisions are made. Therefore, it is imperative that access to mainstream courses is made easier and that the requirements of disabled people are met. Some measures are simple, such as making physical access easier, much of which is already covered in legislation. My colleague Mr Spratt referred to a range of legislation that exists in that field.

Comment from Alison:
The motion is about courses targeted at deaf people (amongst others), yet the response to this talks about mainstream courses and access to this. Whilst access to mainstream courses is imperative, it fails to address the key issue of treating everyone exactly the same which can lead to discrimination. Sometimes mainstream just does not do. Trying to fit a circle through a square comes to mind.

Source:
They Work for You

February 26, 2008

Early Day Motion on Deaf Education

Frank Dobson's Early Day Motion on Deaf education is has been tabled in Parliament:

That this House recognises the importance of ensuring that deaf and hearing-impaired children are educated in British Sign Language (BSL); believes that for many deaf children, BSL will be their lifelong first language and that they have a right to have the national curriculum delivered to them in this language; recognises the outstanding qualities that Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children in Camden has to offer, as highlighted in Ofsted's latest inspection; notes that this is the only school in Greater London offering BSL/English bilingual education for deaf children of primary age and that it educates children from 16 different London boroughs; is concerned about Frank Barnes' ability to continue to deliver its unique education in London if the school is relocated; and calls for this excellent provision to continue in accordance with the wishes of the pupils, parents, Governors, staff and supporters of the school.

(Frank Dobson)

Makes a nice change eh? Click here to contact your MP and ask them to sign it... over 40 MPs have already done so.

jen

Elsewhere:
Thumbs Up Frank Barnes

See also:
Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children: what's the future?

Parliament: Cost of Deaf Education & Effectiveness of Appeals

February 19, 2008

Parliament: Funding for the Royal School for the Deaf & Communication Disorders

Lord Morris of Manchester (Labour)

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What powers the Department for Children, Schools and Families has, or could seek, to assist the Royal School for the Deaf and Communication Disorders in trying to deal with budget deficit and the potential loss of low-incidence specialisms and expertise to severely disabled children and young people.

Lord Adonis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Labour)

All non-maintained special schools (NMSSs) such as the Royal School for the Deaf and Communication Disorders (RSDCD) are responsible for their own financial viability. Local authorities (LAs) are responsible for any fees charged by a school for a child they may place in a school. Any discussion or negotiation of fees is a matter between a school and LA. The department has worked with the representative bodies of LAs, NMSSs and independent schools in developing a national contract for the placement of children and young people in day and residential provision in these schools. Although the contract is widely adopted by schools and LAs, it is not compulsory, nor could it be, as fees are a matter to be agreed by individual parties.

NMSSs do have access to capital and revenue funding streams from the department and RSDCD has received £131,081.17 direct funding from the department in 2007-08. The school will receive a further £15,075 in revenue funding before the end of the financial year.

Source:
Hansard
They Work For You

January 30, 2008

Parliament: Requirement of BSL for Teachers of the Deaf

Sarah Teather (Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; Brent East, Liberal Democrat)

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

(1) what standard of British Sign Language attainment is required of teachers of the deaf;

(2) what comparative assessment he has made of the educational progress of deaf children taught using British Sign Language and those taught using total communication.

Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Cardiff West, Labour)

Where qualified teachers wish to specialise in teaching children with a sensory impairment, including a hearing impairment, they must obtain an additional mandatory qualification (MQ). The current specification for MQ courses includes the expectation that participants successfully completing the MQ for teachers of pupils with hearing impairment should have a minimum competence in signing, equivalent to the CACDP (Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People) Stage 1 qualification. The Training and Development Agency for Schools is currently reviewing the MQ specification, which has included detailed consultation with the approved MQ providers and a range of other interested parties. The Department has made no comparative assessment of the educational progress of deaf children taught using British Sign Language and those taught using total communication.

Source:
Hansard
They Work For You

Parliament: Educational Breakdown of Special Educational Needs

Michael Gove (Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Children, Schools and Families; Surrey Heath, Conservative)

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

(1) how many pupils with statements of special educational need are recorded as attending (a) maintained special schools, (b) maintained mainstream schools and (c) other educational settings broken down by category of special educational need;

(2) how many pupils in (a) maintained and (b) independent schools have a diagnosis of autism;

(3) how many pupils with autism attend (a) maintained special schools, (b) maintained mainstream schools and (c) other educational settings, broken down by category of special need;

(4) how many statements of special educational need were issued in respect of children (a) with autism and (b) recorded as deaf and having impaired hearing in each year for which figures are available;

(5) how many and what proportion of deaf and hearing-impaired pupils are recorded as having (a) special educational needs with a statement, (b) special educational needs without a statement and (c) no special educational needs.

Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Cardiff West, Labour)

Type of special education need is only collected for pupils with statements of SEN and at School Action Plus within maintained mainstream and special schools and non-maintained special schools. This information is not collected for pupils in independent schools or pupils at School Action.

The available information has been placed in the Library and can be found in table 9 of SFR Special Educational Needs in England: January 2007, which is available on the Department's website here.

Source:
Hansard
They Work For You

Parliament: Number of Deaf Schools and Places

Michael Gove (Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Children, Schools and Families; Surrey Heath, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) maintained and (b) independent schools for deaf and hearing-impaired pupils there were in each year since 1997; and how many places were provided in each category in each such year.

Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Cardiff West, Labour)

The numbers of maintained and independent schools that have statutory provision for deaf and hearing impaired pupils are given in the following tables. The number of places provided in these schools is not collected centrally.
Table A: Maintained schools
First Priority
Second Priority
Third Priority
Total
1997
10
5
0
15
1998
10
5
0
15
1999
10
5
0
15
2000
10
5
0
15
2001
8
4
0
12
2002
7
4
0
11
2003
7
4
0
11
2004
7
7
0
14
2005
7
6
1
14
2006
7
4
1
12
2007
8
4
1
13

Table B : Independent schools

First Priority
Second Priority
Third Priority
Total
1997
13
1
0
14
1998
13
1
0
14
1999
13
1
0
14
2000
13
1
0
14
2001
15
1
0
16
2002
15
1
0
16
2003
'14
1
0
15
2004
14
1
0
15
2005
14
1
1
15
2006
14
5
1
19
2007
14
4
1
18

Source:
Hansard
They Work For You

January 24, 2008

North Tyneside Council are delighted at closure of deaf support centre

MonkhousePrimarySchool.jpgNorth Tyneside Council seem to be happy at the closure of a deaf support centre:

Councillors have expressed their delight at closing a deaf support centre – as it means all the youngsters on the books have been integrated into mainstream schools.

An attitude that seems to lack a lot of foresight and clearly fails to understand history, backed by a councillor's remarks:

Coun Norma Redfearn, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, said: "It has been our ambition to integrate as many children as possible from the centre into mainstream schooling.

"At this point in time there is one child at the centre, all the others have been integrated. "I would just like to say 'well done' to all the staff there.

If the council knew its Education policy, it would understand that integration is an outdated concept and inclusion has been very much a concept for the past decade, and enshrined in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001. Inclusion is a policy that has been driven by disabled people, and ultimately led to a be all and end all approach within Education policy. What disabled people have failed to understand is that deaf people do not share the same history education wise.

Due to this policy, it ultimately could lead to damage for some deaf children's education. With the closure of such resources, we enter a spectrum of a lack of choice for parents and this ultimately has implications on children.

My other concern is that the media is a powerful tool for shaping attitudes, where is a deaf view within this? Instead we have hearing people with no direct experience of deaf people making statements. What makes them think they are qualified to do so?

Ask the Readers: Do you know anything about this decision? What do you think?

Source:
News Guardian: Delight at the closure of deaf support centre

Continue reading "North Tyneside Council are delighted at closure of deaf support centre" »

December 30, 2007

Parliament: Signing Assistance in Schools & Educational Achievement of Deaf Children

On the 18 December (I've not had time to blog!) a question was tabled in parliament over deaf education:

Mark Harper (Forest of Dean, Conservative)

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

(1) what guidance is issued to local education authorities on the provision of signing assistance in schools for children with hearing impairments;

(2) what assessment he has made of the educational achievement of (a) deaf and (b) hearing impaired children in each of the last five years.

Here's the answer, and anyone who has worked in this field will completely get this is the government (again) not addressing a longstanding concern:

Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families)

There is no specific guidance issued to local authorities on the provision of signing assistance in schools for children with hearing impairments, however the SEN statutory framework and the SEN code of practice should ensure that all children with special needs have those needs identified and assessed and receive appropriate support.

It is for local authorities to determine what provision they make for children with special educational needs, including children with hearing impairment, taking into account the needs of the individual child, parental preference and local circumstances.

Parents of deaf and hearing impaired children with a statement of special educational needs, are able to express a preference for the maintained school they would like their children to attend based on the communication approaches offered by different schools—auditory-oral, total communication and sign bilingualism.

We do not routinely make a separate assessment of the educational achievement of children with hearing impairment. All pupils both with and without SEN are assessed at the end of key stages of learning and pupils with a statement of SEN have their needs reviewed annually. We are currently in discussion with deaf and hearing impairment organisations about improving the availability of school attainment data for this group of pupils.

The issues around education in the UK is deserving of a blog post on its own sometime. However, one thing that strikes me, if you look through the archives of this blog, it seems similar questions has been raised in the past year (see links below). Questions and answers recycled but nothing acted upon? A case of everyone getting, but a government that refuses to listen?

Sources:
They Work for You
Hansard

See also:
Parliament: Cost of Deaf Education & Effectiveness of Appeals
Parliament: BSL in schools
Parliament: Prime Minister agrees to meet a BSL delegation

October 16, 2007

Parliament: Cost of Deaf Education & Effectiveness of Appeals

A recent question was tabled in parliament around the cost of deaf education, and secondly the effectiveness of the appeal process.

Ian Gibson (Norwich North, Labour)

(1) what estimate he has made of the amount spent on the education of deaf children in Norfolk in each of the last five years;

(2) if he will assess the effectiveness of the process for (a) the education of deaf children and (b) the appeal process against allocation decisions.

Jim Knight (Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families)

The Department does not collect information on the amount spent on the education of particular groups of pupils with special educational needs (SEN).

[snip]

We do not make a separate assessment of the effectiveness of the education of deaf children.

[snip]

We have no plans to review the effectiveness of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), which provides an independent and impartial appeal process against local authority decisions about the education of children with hearing impairments and other special educational needs. In the tribunal year 2005-06 the tribunal decided 31 cases in which hearing impairment was identified as the children's primary difficulty. The tribunal upheld 20 of 26 cases relating to school placement.

[snip]

Continue reading "Parliament: Cost of Deaf Education & Effectiveness of Appeals" »

August 10, 2007

Statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair

At the BDA Congress, we at GOD offered Francis the opportunity to say whatever he liked to our readers/viewers, and he accepted the offer. So, here he is:


... so if you're interested in the BDA and/or Deaf education, get the next train to Southport!

Jen

(English translation for non-BSL signers below...)

Continue reading "Statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair" »

The unofficial BDA Congress 2007 report

bda1

I generally put my money where my mouth is, so went along to the first day of this year's BDA Congress in Southport yesterday to show my support etc. Unfortunately I can't go today, but hope this post gives readers some idea of what it was like. The theme focussed on education and our rights through language and cultural equality.

bda2As someone who's been to about 10 BDA Conferences / Congresses throughout my life, I was saddened to see only about 70 people were there. However, this actually made the whole thing feel more intimate - when Dr Paddy Ladd got up on stage for his paper, he said it was a shame there were so few of us, but that meant each of us was "doubly important" - cool way of looking at it!

Indeed, I didn't realise at first, but there was a definite air of informality about the whole thing; there were NO suits, NO grand speeches with flashy PowerPoints and NO BDA staff rushing around with clipboards. In fact, I don't think I saw any BDA staff at all, except one. It seemed to be being run by volunteers, which kind of brought the BDA back to its roots, perhaps. The atmosphere was humble and almost apologetic; new BDA Chair, Francis Murphy was open and honest throughout, and kept apologising for the lack of publicity and countless other things.

I have to say I enjoyed the day I spent at the Congress - the BDA deserves to be praised for managing to pull it off despite the hard time they are going through right now.

David Muir - Doncaster School for the Deaf and a father

bda3The first paper, Bilingual Education: Why it's the best option and how it can be improved, was by David Muir, who is a father of two Deaf girls and works at Doncaster School for the Deaf. David made it clear he was speaking in a personal capacity and his paper was generally good and informative and very PRO 'proper' bilingualism (not just pretend bilingualism where teachers can't sign fluently etc), but went on rather too long, I am afraid.

The main points David made were that the three main problems with Deaf education are that it leads to the high possibility of mental health problems, low achievement and low self esteem and self confidence. Notably, he said, Deaf people should control Deaf education. Finally! A hearing educator finally said that in public!

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Dr Paddy Ladd

Next up was Dr Paddy Ladd, with a paper on Deaf Culture, Deafhood and Deaf Education. Watching Paddy made me feel more politically motivated than I have in a long time! It's just a shame there weren't more people there to watch him, because God knows, the UK Deaf community could do with a dose of political motivation at the moment. That and a kick up the arse!

bda4Paddy talked about the disastrous effects of colonalism, and how Deaf people's identities would be stronger if young Deaf people's education introduced them to Deaf culture, thus developing their Deafhood at an earlier age than now. He discussed how Deaf educators are more likely to use Cultural Holism when teaching Deaf kids, treating them as whole people, and acknowledging how the Deaf and hearing worlds are different, explaining what it means, how to live and how they have a place in the world.

Paddy said we need to be stronger and work with our hearing allies without being mistrustful of them taking over. He also said we need more hearing allies - largely hearing parents (90% of us have them, anyway!) - the media is far more likely to listen to radical hearing parents than Deafies having a demo! We need more action, a BDA education campaign group, youth camps and youth leadership programmes, volunteers and so on. We need many things!

I hope the BDA listens to Paddy because he signed a lot of sense.

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Professor Bencie Woll

After lunch, I missed the first part of Bencie Woll's paper on bilingualism - I also missed the title because it wasn't in the programme, but it seemed to be a linguistic perspective. Not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid, as I'm not really a linguistic person and Bencie was a bit academic, talking about the brain and stuff!

bda5However, I was really pleased to see Bencie signing for herself, which is sadly a rare thing for hearing people do to... that was cool. In summary, she talked about how people in the Deaf community are bilingual even though they think they aren't, and gave some facts about language acquisition and the education of Deaf children, including how BSL actually helps English literacy, not the opposite, as the oralists claim. In conclusion, Bencie said that Deaf people should have the opportunity to be bilingual. Too right!

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Workshops

Last off, I went to Paddy's workshop on Deafhood (the other one was on linguistics) which was quite interesting, with people talking about how the DDA is actually rather crap - some people said they liked it but I am not one of them! - and discussing how the BDA could offer more support for parents of Deaf children.

BDA involvement with UKCoD

The only thing that pissed me off all day was when Francis mentioned that the BDA is thinking about re-joining the chocolate teapot of British deaf organisations, UKCoD. Yes, I know many people would agree with this, but again I am not one of them, and I stood up to tell Francis that. Apparently UKCoD is desperate to have more "Deaf" input - how very funny since they stole our BSL recognition campaign(!) - and have begged (??) the BDA to reconsider. However Francis said they will make sure they have more teeth this time round and I sincerely hope so because UKCoD has a big jawline. AGH.

Whatever. The BDA needs support at the moment and I hope that there are more than 70 people there today. Wish I could be one of them but I cannot. And I really wish more people would do more supportive things for the BDA rather than sit on their arses and slag them off! They need us now, probably more than ever before. As the late great Dorothy Miles said, and was quoted many times yesterday;

The BDA is you and me, and together we will fight for equality!

Coming very soon:

* An exclusive BSL statement from Francis Murphy, BDA Chair (shame on See Hear for not going up to film!!)
* An interview with the magnificient Dr Paddy Ladd, also brought to you on video.

Jen

August 9, 2007

Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children: what's the future?

frankbarnes.jpgFrank Barnes is a bilingual primary school based in north London, specifically in the London Borough of Camden, teaching through the mediums of BSL and English.

The school has been recognised for its quality, and was previously awarded beacon status for high performing schools (scheme now phrased out).

The London Borough of Camden wants to close the existing school, and redevelop the site to make way for a (hearing) secondary school, set to open in 2011. The authority states that one of its reasons for demolishing the school is that only three of its pupils come from Camden, and around 40 other children outside this borough.

Within the UK local authorities usually assume responsibility for schools, and places for any children outside the borough are charged to the authority in which the children reside. A London Borough map can be found here.

Deaf people (including children) will always be geographically spread out, and to this end solutions designed in response to how a hearing society or the majority is constructed, cannot be applied. The school's catchment area goes beyond Camden, which shifts the priority the LEA is giving this matter.

Now the authorityl is looking at 5 possible solutions:

- Building a specialist regional centre for students from across London in Camden.

- Rebuilding the school alongside Primrose Hill primary in Princess Road.

- Turning an existing building somewhere in the borough into an appropriate location for Frank Barnes.

- Building a new base next to a current Camden school to cater for just eight students with hearing difficulties.

- Merging Frank Barnes with Blanche Neville school for deaf children in Muswell Hill.

Why should it have less priority and become second, or make way for something else. Frank Barnes got where it was first (does anyone know when it was established?), thus it is now expected to give up something for a majority. Due to their minority status / don't easily fit into mainstream structures, they are being penalised.

What do you think of Camden's decision to demolish the existing building, and what should they do now? Do you have any strong opinions on this subject?

Source: Ham & High

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May 18, 2007

Parliament: BSL in schools

Yesterday's debate in parliament made reference to the use of BSL in schools.

Madeleine Moon (Bridgend, Labour)

May we have a debate on the increased teaching and use of British Sign Language? Last week I visited Archdeacon John Lewis primary school in my constituency and was pleased to see children as young as three and up to the age of 11 not only singing in English and Welsh, but using British Sign Language, along with all their teachers. As there are two profoundly deaf children in the school, all at the school have taken responsibility for learning British Sign Language. Is that not a subject that we should be rolling out throughout our schools?

Jack Straw (Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons)

As someone who takes a close interest in matters related to the deaf, I applaud my hon. Friend's interest and will certainly look for an opportunity for a debate, possibly on the Adjournment or in Westminster Hall.

Jack Straw MP is hard of hearing, and some of you might remember he opened FDP Conference at Blackburn in 1997 (his constituency). He caused a stir in the UK last October, by suggesting Muslim women should remove their veils.

Question: why are such measures delivered on an ad hoc basis, instead of the government taking inclusion seriously in schools, and introducing measures such as BSL as a language option, on par with French and Welsh?

Link

April 2, 2007

Deaf headteachers in the UK = two

Whilst chatting to a friend, it just occurred to me that it is frequently reported that Mabel Davis is the only deaf headteacher in the UK. Not true. What about Mary Nest-Richardson? Its taken a very long while for the penny to drop re inaccurate reporting.

Disclosure: Mary is related to my family.