Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

Academies: good or bad news for deaf children?

Posted by Ian Noon on June 2, 2010

The Queen was dragged away from her TV last week to come and open Parliament for the new Government and to read a speech written for her by the Government on new laws coming through. I wonder if one day the Queen will just say “read your own speech, I want to watch Loose Women” but that day hasn’t arrived yet.

One of the new laws she announced was the Academies Bill. Academies are a type of school which are independent of the local council. They were popularised by Tony Blair and there are now over 200 of them. The new Government wants to oversee a massive expansion of the programme.

I can see some of the pros of the proposal. Why not allow headteachers and teachers to run their own school themselves; they themselves know their own pupils best, rather than some local council bureaucrat. It’s not as if local councils have been a complete success at improving the educational attainment of disadvantaged children.

On the other hand, there some real uncertainty about specialist services for deaf children. The problem is that this is usually provided and funded by local councils. If academies are independent of local councils, the councils will have less money for these kinds of specialist support services for deaf children. Academies would have to pay for it as an extra cost. But most academies may only have one deaf child; the cost of high quality expert specialist support may be proportionally very expensive unless you have lots of academies pooling their resources. So will deaf children in academies get the support they need?

The other concern is that, in a desire to give academies more freedoms, it’s unclear whether some laws on special educational needs are being followed. For example, non-academies have to make sure that their special educational needs co-ordinators are qualified teachers. The same law doesn’t apply to academies.

The National Deaf Children’s Society will be flagging up these concerns with politicians as they debate the Academies Bill. But since there are relatively few Academies already in operation, there is a lack of information over how deaf children already in academies are getting on at the moment. Is it good, OK or bad?

If you know of any deaf children, let us know how they’re getting on by leaving a comment below or emailing campaigns@ndcs.org.uk.

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One Response to “Academies: good or bad news for deaf children?”

  1. Alison Marrs said

    Hello Ian – I was at a meeting (CHSWG) yesterday and the Teacher of the deaf there was very concerned about what the future holds for deaf children, if lots of schools apply for academy status. He felt that in a similar way to grant-maintained status, deaf children will lose out.

    I don’t know of any deaf children in academies as such, but I do know that in Barking and Dagenham, there was a system whereby schools chose whether or not to ‘buy into’ specialist services (e.g. for Autism, deafness) and I heard of one school who chose not to buy in for the Teacher of the deaf even though they had one deaf child at the school. It also meant that as schools were funding services, less actual home visits and visits to audioligy clinics could be justified as schools were expecting only school base services. This could happen again if academies do get in external support. The visits could be school based only.

    In terms of pre-school, the Teacher of the deaf at this meeting was wondering how that would be funded? If money was allocated directly to schools, then how will pre-school services be funded? There may be answers to that one….just throwing it out there!

    Alison

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