Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Debating deaf children’s futures

Posted by Ian Noon on October 13, 2013

After 18 months of campaigning and 50,000+ petition signatures, MPs have agreed that concerns over cuts to funding to support for deaf children are so serious that Parliament should debate them.

Deafness is invariably described as the invisible disability. The needs of deaf children too often get overlooked. Well, not on Thursday. This isn’t going to be a debate in some poky committee room – it will be on the floor of the House of Commons. The needs of deaf children will take centre-stage and the Government will be forced to explain what exactly they are doing to make sure deaf children get the help they need. And the whole world can judge whether this is good enough. This is a big deal, ladies and gentlemen.

The debate is going to be an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the fact that help for deaf children is being cut across the country. The Government say they have protected funding for vulnerable learners yet this protection isn’t being carried through at a local level. 29% of local authorities are cutting services and another 25% are at risk, according to analysis from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).

You might take the Government’s point that this is a matter for local communities. But there’s only so much fire-fighting that parents can do without getting exhausted or neglecting their core job – being Mums and Dads to their deaf child. It’s time for the Government to take action to stop the fires starting in the first place.

There are different ways the Government can do this. It could intervene directly in some of the worse cases and name and shame council bosses that don’t protect funding for vulnerable learners. The Government seems quite happy to tell councils what to do about rubbish collections and council magazines after all.

It could also introduce stronger checks over councils. It could make Ofsted inspect specialist services for deaf children. It’s easy for councils to cut services if they don’t think there are going to be any serious consequences.

The debate is also going to be an opportunity to say that, well actually, before even all of these cuts, in many places the support deaf children were getting wasn’t good enough. Over two thirds of deaf children fail to get 5 good GCSEs. It’s an opportunity to debate openly the fact that:

  • Too many families aren’t getting enough support after their deaf child is born. Where they want to learn sign language, families sometimes have to pay thousands of pounds just to learn to communicate with their own child.
  • Too many deaf children don’t get the specialist support they need in the classroom. They have to learn in poky noisy classrooms without extra help and support.
  • Too many deaf young people don’t get the help they need to prepare for adulthood and independence.

My biggest fear is that the Government will, come Thursday’s debate, do as they’ve done before and just bat away concerns. They’ll point to tiny pots of money given for small projects – not unappreciated but not enough. They’ll point to new laws on special educational needs even though this doesn’t address the fundamental issues deaf children face.

This is why a big turnout from MPs is needed. The more MPs that turn up and say something must be done, the more likely the Government will actually do something substantial. So MPs need to know this debate is important. MPs need to hear from families and deaf people of the individual stories and challenges that deaf children face. MPs need to challenge the Government to do more, much more.

And hopefully then Thursday’s debate will be the start of a lasting change that makes a big difference to deaf children.

To ask your MP to come along on Thursday, you can email him / her via the NDCS website. For more information about the debate, you can also check out NDCS’s Stolen Futures campaign pages. You can email your MP via the

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Battle lost on welfare cuts for deaf people

Posted by Ian Noon on March 5, 2013

The Department for Work and Pensions’ have succeeded in their plans to replace Disability Living Allowance with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for disabled people over 16. The regulations were debated and voted through by Parliament around a month ago. And now many deaf people will lose out.

A response from the National Deaf Children’s Society is online and sets out their anger and disappointment.

I think what makes me most angry is the way the Government have gone about making this cut without being open about the consequences. Lots of members of the public and a few MPs and peers have raised concerns about the impact of these changes on deaf people. They have all been largely fobbed by the Department for Work and Pensions in several different insidious ways.

For example, the Department have been prone to engage in rhetoric about supporting those “most in need” when asked how deaf people will be affected.

Note the implication that that deafness isn’t that big a deal. If the Department think this, they should come out and say so. They’ve had ample opportunity.

And since when did it become OK for the Department for Work and Pensions to turn disability into some kind of big competition, pitting different groups of disabled people against each other to see who is ‘most’ disabled? I thought the just thing to do was to support everyone who needs help. It’s brazen and shameless divide and rule.

Another example of how the Department have batted away concerns is through refusing to identify how many deaf people will lose out. They say the Department can’t monitor the impact on deaf people. Everyone’s needs need to be looked at individually, they say. I find this curious because the Department can come up with a very specific figure of 608,000 people who will be affected by these changes. That’s 608,000 individuals who have already been judged to not be disabled enough. They can also breakdown figures in terms of who is on different rates of DLA. I rather suspect the Department can work out the differential impact but have made a conscious decision not to do so.

And finally, and probably what annoys me most, is some rather disingenuous use of definitions. For example, the dividing line between those deaf people who will and won’t get PIP is whether they have difficulties understanding basic or complex verbal information without communication support. So if you can’t understand basic information, you qualify. If you can understand basic but not complex you won’t.

When someone says ‘complex’ information, I assume they’re talking about the philosophy of Nietzsche or the budget for the European Commission. In fact, ‘complex’ anything that takes more than a sentence. This isn’t complex information at all – it’s everyday communication. And now deaf people who can understand yes or no but who struggle with everyday communication will lose out. So much for promoting personal independence.

The changes come into force from April. Reassessments for anyone who is currently claiming DLA will start from October – including deaf children who have just turned 16. You can expect a letter in the post. If you currently have a lifetime award, this isn’t going to make a difference, you will still undergo reassessment. In most cases, you will probably be called to a face to face assessment.

It now seems likely that the Department for Work and Pensions will turn their attention to DLA for children. Will the Department attempt to cut support to those children it deems to not disabled enough? If so, they’re going to have a hell of a fight on their hands.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is this really the right time to push ahead with special educational needs reform?

Posted by Ian Noon on February 18, 2013

Sad parliamentary geeks of the world, rejoice! The long-expected Children and Families Bill has now been published, setting out, amongst other, wide-ranging proposals for reform to the special educational needs framework. This is likely to result in significant changes to how deaf children and their families are supported and educated. If you’re unfamiliar with what the reforms mean, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have produced a FAQ for parents of deaf children.

For much of this year, I’m going to be working on the Bill and briefing politicians what it might mean for deaf children and which bits of the Bill they should support, question, clarify or violently throw their Committee chairs against the wall and revolt against. Who knows, I might end up accidentally changing the law again.

In short, it’s going to be a big deal. So before we get into all of that, it’s worth asking a fairly fundamental question: is it sensible to go ahead with these proposals now?

The reason I ask is that the NDCS Stolen Futures campaign has already found that in the two years running up to April 2013, 1 in 3 councils have cut vital services for deaf children. So who is going to be left to implement these reforms?

The reforms are not cost-neutral. That much is clear from the ‘pathfinders’ who have been testing out the reforms. One Teacher of the Deaf working in one of the pathfinder areas told me that the work she had been doing on creating new ‘Education, Health and Care Plans’ involved lengthy meetings with parents and lots of work to co-ordinate with other professionals. This is not to say that the reforms are a bad idea. But it is to question whether they are sustainable in the long-run, without extra investment. However, the Department for Education have been clear that there is no new money on the table.

The big fear is that this reform actually causes so much upheaval that services get worse and deaf children’s education suffers. Parents of deaf children are already a little anxious about what this all means. In a NDCS survey, just 6% of parents of deaf children thought the proposals would mean that deaf children would get better support. 80% of parents who were familiar the reforms said they thought the real aim was to reduce spending. The Department clearly has some work to do to reassure parents.

As the Bill goes through Parliament, NDCS is going to be reinforcing this point: that unless the Department for Education ‘step up’ and intervene where local authorities are making cuts to services, their SEN reforms risk making a bad situation worse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stolen Futures campaign video and why the Government needs to step up

Posted by Ian Noon on February 11, 2013

Image courtesy of NDCS

Well, today was very exciting. The new campaign video for the National Deaf Children’s Society Stolen Futures campaign was released. It features actor Jim Carter (him off Downton Abbey, not the ex-peacenik-President) and my heroine Dame Evelyn Glennie (her banging the drums at the Olympics). And Jim then appeared on Lorraine this morning to tell everyone about the petition. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve always had a secret crush on Lorraine. It’s that husky Scottish voice. Rrrr.

Anyhow, the video is great. Please do watch and see for yourself. But it has a serious side. Vital services for deaf children are still being cut across the UK. Deaf children’s futures are still being stolen. And the Department for Education are still buck passing. The National Deaf Children’s Society still needs 100,000 signatures to force the Department to take responsibility.

“It’s a matter for local authorities,” the Department say.

“We’ve protected funding for vulnerable learners,” they protest.

“Go and have a go at the council bosses, light some firecrackers down the council building,” they haven’t quite said but it lies near the surface.

By April 2013, one in three local authorities will have cut the vital services that deaf children rely on. Is the Department for Education seriously expecting parents from across all those areas or charitable organisations like the National Deaf Children’s Society to be able to hold them all to account? For real?

It’s the Department for Education’s money. It’s their responsibility. They need to sort it.

Hence, the petition to get them to intervene. It’s building momentum. Over 28,500 so far. Share the video with everyone you know to help them see why this is so important. Get them to sign the petition. And then get them to share the video with everyone they know. And that way we can get the Department for Education to finally step up.

Deaf children deserve better than all this buck passing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Welfare cuts targeting deaf people?

Posted by Ian Noon on December 17, 2012

Well, it’s official. The Government thinks that deafness is just a ‘minor’ disability. A piffling little thing of no consequence or cost.

Last week, the Government confirmed the arrangements for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people over 16 (DLA is safe for children – for now). In doing so, they confirmed that deaf people will be among those hardest hit. Here’s a National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) story on it.

The older lower rate for DLA is out which will hit a lot of deaf people.

And the criteria has been worded in such a word that basically you have to be a sign language user reliant on interpreters all the time to get even basic standard rate of PIP. Some estimates suggest around 90% of deaf people don’t use sign language as their main form of communication in the home.

To add insult to injury, the entire claim process is predicated on the basis that all disabled people can use the phone to request a form. Forget about such quaint things like webforms or email.

From next April over 600,000 disabled people will start to see their DLA cut or removed. That’s over half a million. And yet the announcements got hardly any coverage.

MPs and Lords will have to approve the changes at some point early in the new year. If you’re angry about the fact the Government doesn’t seem to understand deafness or think that it carries any significant extra costs, then get in touch with your MP and ask him or her to oppose the changes. If you get DLA now, explain to your MP what you use it for and what life would be like if you didn’t get it.

And don’t forget, if the Government thinks they can get away with this, deaf children and their families will be next.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Stop what you’re doing, sign a petition and help stop cuts to deaf children’s services

Posted by Ian Noon on July 26, 2012

My colleague Jenny caught me talking to myself the other day. I simply reminded her about the importance of internal communications in our office. And in the best spirit of internal communication, I am going to interview myself in this blog. I think I’m sitting comfortably, so here we go.

Hello! Do you have 5 minutes to sign a petition? 

God, not another pointless pontificating petition for socialist eco-warrior peaceniks to sign…

No, no, no – this is a petition to help save services for deaf children. 1 in 4 councils are cutting vital services for deaf children like Teachers of the Deaf, communication support workers, audiologists, social workers, speech and language therapists. NDCS’s Stolen Futures report sets out the full scale of cuts across England.

Yeah, yeah, all very sad, boo hoo, but cuts are taking place everywhere, innit?

Yeah, but are things really so bad that we have to start cutting help for deaf children, some of the most vulnerable children in society. To force deaf children to sit in classrooms missing what’s being said and falling further and further behind because their Teacher of the Deaf isn’t able to come in anymore? Is that how we think we should treat deaf children?

Er, yes, that’s bad but…

Hang on dear, there’s more. Imagine you’re a Mum who’s just found out that your child is deaf. You know nothing about deafness. 9 out of 10 parents don’t. You need someone to explain what deafness is, how you can teach your child to develop language and communication, and help you navigate all the other services out there. You need someone to give you hope.

Yeah, OK, it’s pretty immoral and something needs to be done, but a petition, yeah? Hardly going to change the world…

But if this petition gets 100,000 signatures, Parliament will hold a debate on the petition.

A debate? Snooze… I thought we were trying to stop the cuts? How is a debate going to change things?

A debate is still a big deal. Very few petitions hit the 100,000 mark so those that do get noticed. Government Ministers will have to explain themselves in front of everyone and answer some tough searching questions about what’s happening to deaf kids. Even if nothing happens immediately, it’s going to put them under huge amounts of pressure to do something. Plus, it will send a really strong signal that people care about deaf children. That people think the Government and councils should have some basic decency and not abandon deaf children.

But what’s the point of asking Westminster to do anything? The local councils are the bad guys right? Why can’t you just keep fighting them locally like you’ve been doing already? Take them to court and flog ‘em? 

True, dat. It is the councils making cuts. But the Government holds the big purse strings. And they have real powers of direction over councils. There’s 152 councils in England. As much as they would like to and as much as they can try to, organisations like NDCS can’t fight the local cuts everywhere. Central Government can, should and needs to intervene.

100,000 signatures though? Impossible. Do you want me to raise the Titanic while I’m at it? 

Impossible? It’s said that everyone in the world is connected through six people. Around 500 people read my last blog last week. You all have friends, right? You also have colleagues, social groups that you’re involved in? If you sign it, then get 10 people to sign the petition and then they too get 10 people to sign it, we’re half way there already.

And I suppose when you get to  halfway other people will start to notice and say to themselves, actually yeah, this is a pretty appalling way to treat some of the most vulnerable children in society.

Absolutely. Aren’t you a clever clogs. And think what a signal it would send if the needs of deaf children reach the top of the agenda. Councils and Government would seriously think twice about ever doing anything to mess with people who care about deaf children and other disabled children.

Alright then, I’ll sign the bloody thing. Er, and how do I do that? 

Easy. Go to this website. Add your details. Click send. Then wait for an email to confirm you’re not some lunatic spambot and click on the link in the email. And you’re done. Then email everyone you know and get them all fired up. Sorted.

I’ll do my best. I’m still just 1 person though. Can I really make a difference?

Yes. If enough people take small steps to stand up to an injustice, big things can happen.

Deaf children are some of the most vulnerable children in society. If we don’t stand up for their rights and stop the cuts, then who will?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What does the big special educational needs shake up mean for deaf children?

Posted by Ian Noon on July 23, 2012

The Department for Education are now full steam ahead with the biggest shake up of the special educational needs framework in England for 30 years. It certainly feels like 30 years since they announced their initial proposals but has actually only been less than 2 years. So what will the shake up mean for deaf children? Will it lead to better services and more choice for parents?

Well, despite a recent ‘Next steps’ update from the Department, some of the details are still somewhat hazy and will only become clear when the Department publishes their new laws in draft in September. Lots of the proposals are also still being tested by pilot pathfinders in 30-odd areas across England. The reforms are mega and it’ s impossible to try and summarise everything in one go. But I’ll have a go. Here’s a selection of 3 key questions and areas of uncertainty.

1) Education, Health and Care Plans

The statements are dead. Long live the Education, Health and Care plans. Yes, the statements – the legal entitlements to support that around 25% of deaf children currently have – is going to be broadened out and replaced with Education, Health and Care plans. The stated intention is to better ensure joined up working and prevent parents from having to give professionals the same information over and over again when their child is being assessed.

But will it do the job? Some key issues include:

* Existing legal protections won’t be lost (i.e. for education). But it’s not yet clear whether the plans will introduce any new legal protections (i.e. for health and social care). If it doesn’t, it kind of begs the question as to what the whole point of changing it is.

* Who will get one? When similar reforms have been done in other parts of the UK, the stated intention has been to reduce the number of children with statements. Will the same happen in England?

* Who’s going to do all these assessments? NDCS’s latest Save Services report, Stolen Futures, has found that 1 in 3 councils have cut education services since April 2011. Half of these cuts involve Teachers of the Deaf. Are the Government’s ambitions being thwarted by the cuts taking place on the ground?

* What will the plan look like? Will it have a proper focus on how deaf children should be doing and what support they need to get there? Or will it be a wiffly-waffly smiley face document of general platitudes? Some of the pathfinders seem to be going down the latter route…

2) Personal budgets

Parents who have a statement/plan will now get the chance to take control over the budget for their child’s services and buy in services from whoever they choose. The right to personal budgets will be an option and councils are expected to provide support to parents to help them navigate the system through what are sometimes known as ‘key workers’. Tricky issues here include:

* What will parents be able to buy with a personal budget?

* Choice for parents is great. But if parents chose not to buy from existing services, how much of a problem will that be?  Will existing council-run services have to wind down? Will personal budgets in effect end up actually reducing choice for other parents?

* The concept of personal budgets assumes a choice of services for parents. Yet does this really apply to educational services for deaf children? Can a parent pop down to Tesco to get a new Teacher of the Deaf?

3) The local offer

Every council will now have to say what’s available in their area for parents of children with special educational needs via a new ‘local offer’. The idea is that it will improve accountability and help parents get the information they need more readily. But…

* Will information be broken down by type of special educational need? The needs of a child with autism will be very different from that of a deaf child so how will councils produce something which is genuinely useful to all parents without cutting down the Amazon?

* Will there be a set format for a local offer? If not, how easy will parents find it to make comparisons between what’s in their own area and in neighbouring councils?

* Do parents really want a local offer? Or do they want a national offer? To be confident that the same basic services for deaf children will be available everywhere? I suspect the latter, but the Department has effectively already ruled this out.

This is barely scratching the surface and there are loads of other unanswered questions. NDCS’s response to the initial proposals sets out some of these other issues. Suffice to say, it would be a shame if the biggest, and badly needed, shake up of special educational needs reform doesn’t improve things for deaf children. So anyone with an interest in deaf education should start paying very close attention to the developing proposals in the coming months to make they do deliver for deaf children. Watch this space very closely.

If you’ve got any views on what the reforms will mean for deaf children, drop a line below – be good to hear from you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Did your MP turn their back on deaf children?

Posted by Ian Noon on February 2, 2012

At the bottom of this blog is a depressingly long list of all the MPs who voted to cut benefits for deaf and other disabled children last night in the Welfare Reform Bill debate.

Here is a website where you can work out who your MP is if you’re not sure. Apparently, you can send a message to him/her from this website if you ever, say, had any reason to ask your MP why they turned their back on deaf children.

And finally, here is a list of all the MPs who signed the National Deaf Children’s Society election pledge in 2010. The pledge included a promise to “help deaf children in their constituency get the same opportunities as other children”.

Maria Miller, the Government Minister for Disability last night effectively described deafness as a “moderate” disability and encouraged MPs to make a political choice to cut benefits for deaf children in order to fund support for other more “severe” disabilities. If you think this is a twisted morality that ignores the impact of deafness on children, I strongly encourage you to email your MP is he/she was among those who voted for this. And if your MP also signed the election pledge, you could well ask why they’ve now broken their promises to help deaf children.

MPs who voted to cut benefits for deaf children:
Adams, Nigel
Afriyie, Adam
Aldous, Peter
Alexander, rh Danny
Amess, Mr David
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Bacon, Mr Richard
Baker, Norman
Baker, Steve
Baldry, Tony
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr John
Barwell, Gavin
Bebb, Guto
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bingham, Andrew
Binley, Mr Brian
Birtwistle, Gordon
Blackman, Bob
Blackwood, Nicola
Blunt, Mr Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bone, Mr Peter
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Bradley, Karen
Brady, Mr Graham
Brake, rh Tom
Bray, Angie
Brazier, Mr Julian
Bridgen, Andrew
Brine, Steve
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, Fiona
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burns, Conor
Burns, rh Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Lorely
Byles, Dan
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Carswell, Mr Douglas
Cash, Mr William
Chishti, Rehman
Chope, Mr Christopher
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Cox, Mr Geoffrey
Crabb, Stephen
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Davey, Mr Edward
Davies, David T. C.
(Monmouth)
Davies, Glyn
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh Mr David
de Bois, Nick
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duddridge, James
Duncan, rh Mr Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Elphicke, Charlie
Eustice, George
Evans, Graham
Evans, Jonathan
Evennett, Mr David
Fabricant, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mark
Foster, rh Mr Don
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fullbrook, Lorraine
Fuller, Richard
Gale, Sir Roger
Garnier, Mr Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gummer, Ben
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Matthew
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, Greg
Harper, Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Hayes, Mr John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Hemming, John
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hollingbery, George
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Holloway, Mr Adam
Horwood, Martin
Howell, John
Hughes, rh Simon
Huhne, rh Chris
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jackson, Mr Stewart
James, Margot
Javid, Sajid
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kelly, Chris
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Mr Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Laws, rh Mr David
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leigh, Mr Edward
Leslie, Charlotte
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewis, Brandon
Lewis, Dr Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lilley, rh Mr Peter
Lloyd, Stephen
Lord, Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lumley, Karen
Macleod, Mary
Main, Mrs Anne
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Maynard, Paul
McCartney, Karl
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick
McPartland, Stephen
McVey, Esther
Mensch, Louise
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Patrick
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mowat, David
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, rh David
Munt, Tessa
Murray, Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Nuttall, Mr David
O’Brien, Mr Stephen
Offord, Mr Matthew
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Opperman, Guy
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, rh Mr James
Parish, Neil
Patel, Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Pincher, Christopher
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, John
Raab, Mr Dominic
Randall, rh Mr John
Reckless, Mark
Redwood, rh Mr John
Rees-Mogg, Jacob
Reevell, Simon
Reid, Mr Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, rh Mr Andrew
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rudd, Amber
Ruffley, Mr David
Russell, Sir Bob
Rutley, David
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shepherd, Mr Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Smith, Miss Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, Julian
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, rh Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Stride, Mel
Stuart, Mr Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Swales, Ian
Swayne, rh Mr Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, rh Mr Hugo
Syms, Mr Robert
Tapsell, rh Sir Peter
Timpson, Mr Edward
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Truss, Elizabeth
Turner, Mr Andrew
Uppal, Paul
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Charles
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, Mr Ben
Walter, Mr Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, Steve
Wharton, James
Wheeler, Heather
White, Chris
Whittaker, Craig
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr Rob
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Government turns their back on deaf children

Posted by Ian Noon on February 1, 2012

Maria Miller MP, Disability Minister

One thing that has always made me feel angry is that the way that deaf people are forced to “cope”. Other disabled people are much worse off. But deafness still poses huge barriers. In a civilised society, deaf people shouldn’t have to go through life “coping”. Deaf people need support to help them become independent and thrive and to manage the additional costs that come with being a deaf person in a world that still isn’t set up for deaf people.

Tonight, MPs have voted to cut benefits for deaf children. Where families with deaf children receive tax credits, some were entitled to “disability additions”. These additions are going to be cut by half, at a cost of £1,400 a year, to some families. A briefing by Every Disabled Child Matters explains more.

Lords tried to overturn it last night. Baroness Wilkins made a powerful speech about the impact of this cut on deaf children. But MPs – including a large number who signed a National Deaf Children’s Society pledge to support deaf children – have voted to ignore the Lords, close any further discussion of it and proceed with a cut to help for deaf and other disabled children.

Yes, we are in difficult financial times. But I don’t remember reading anywhere that deaf children caused the global economic recession.

Yes, other disabled people need more support. But I think all disabled people would say that this shouldn’t be at cost of support for deaf children. Anyone who thinks that deafness is “disability-lite” needs to see the world through the eyes of a deaf child struggling and their parents.

Yes, deaf people can succeed in life and do well. But I don’t think the Government should accept that “coping” is a fair way for deaf people to live their lives.

This is going to have a devastating impact on many families with deaf children and push many into poverty. The Government is trying to balance the budget on the backs of deaf children. It’s just wrong.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Traded services (or how to cut deaf children’s services by stealth)

Posted by Ian Noon on January 27, 2012

A new menace is sweeping specialist support services for deaf children across England and the protagonists claim they’re doing so with the Government’s approval. It goes by many names. But most people refer to it as “traded services”.

Definitions vary. But when I refer to traded services, I refer to it as the practice whereby local authorities stop providing specialist support services for children with special educational needs free of charge, and instead start “selling” or “trading” their services to schools who must now buy them back in. Warwickshire council, for example, charges up to £85 for an hour of Teacher of the Deaf time and up to £285 for a day with a specialist Teaching Assistant.

Why is this a problem for deaf children?

1) Because deafness is relatively uncommon, most schools will rarely come across a deaf child. How will they know what to buy?
2) How are they going to pay for it? If budgets are split between all schools, regardless of whether they’ve got a deaf child, then the schools where there are actually deaf children present are not going to have enough money to buy the help that deaf children need.
3) It produces a whole set of distorted incentives. Schools are incentivised to save money for buying support “on the cheap”, like a general teaching assistant, rather than a specialist teaching assistant. Councils are incentivised to spend more time “marketing” their services rather than actually giving deaf children the help they need.

In Warwickshire, these problems are particularly acute because of (in my view) the incredibly cack-handed way in which the service has made the shift to traded services. A sub-group of deaf children have now been shifted over to “traded services.” 3 reasons to be angry with the council are:

1) Schools haven’t been given ANY extra cash to help pay for the help they are now expected to purchase for deaf children. The council repeatedly refused to answer questions on this issue and the council only admitted there was a funding cut when forced to through a Freedom of Information request.
2) Headteachers were told about the move to traded services for some deaf children over the summer break. When the school was closed. Many may only have got the letter once school term started.
3) Parents weren’t initially told. Many parents only found out when they discovered their child was no longer getting any help from a Teacher of the Deaf. The council has been remarkedly reluctant to meet with parents.

Warwickshire’s attitude has been incredibly cavalier. These deaf children are now the responsibility of the schools, they say. It’s a pretty shocking state of affairs when a council can just wipe their hands of a group of deaf children that they had until recently been supporting.

Parents are rightly upset and outraged. They’re petitioning the council to think again. And on Saturday, there will be a campaign day of action in Stratford-upon-Avon. The National Deaf Children’s Society is supporting their campaign to reverse the move to traded services. The help that deaf children receive should be determined by what they need, end of. Not by what their school is able or willing to buy back. And any cuts should be openly and honestly (or not at all). Not through reckless changes to funding systems or by stealth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers