I got an email earlier this week from a father of a deaf son, offering to act as a case study for NDCS campaigns. Case studies like this really help us demonstrate the case for action and help make our campaign asks more personal and real.
As a campaigns officer, I come across lots of examples of how deaf children and young people have been let down. But this was a pretty upsetting email to read:
“I am writing as a parent of a deaf teenager who is coming to the end of his A levels at 6th form. My son who has a severe to profound loss was well supported at his secondary school but when he moved on to do A levels it was a disaster. The local Hearing Impaired Service informed us that they covered the 6th form college he was to attend (his secondary school had no 6th form so he had to move on). However, once at the 6th form he was given 1 visit per term (20 minute chat with a teacher for the deaf). When I asked for support with issues of educational concern I was given the message that there was no one designated member of staff for my son as he was an older student and that the focus for their service was with the younger ones. They went on to say that the older students should be able to advocate for themselves by this stage. My son had been given a separate room for his GCSE’s at school and a support assistant in the class to ensure he had understood and got the correct notes he needed in class. At A level he had nothing. The 6th Form even put him in the main exam hall during the first round of exams in the first year with all students and he was told to take his hearing aids out during the exams as the feedback noise might disturb other students. I informed the Hearing Impaired Service of this and they were concerned but felt that this was something that I as a parent should really sort out for my son, if he could not do it himself. They eventually came over to see the SENCO and my son was given a separate room for his exams 6 months later in the summer of the first year (his results for the Janaury exams were really bad but the Hearing Impaired Service did not even ask). In the second year of sixth form when I asked the Hearing Impaired Service to check that my son would be given the correct support during his exams the Hearing Impaired Service (manager) evetually rang to instruct me to do this work as her staff were busy with the younger students and reiterated that this was something I should do and that her staff were really not responsible. I was extremely disappointed by this attitude.
Given my son’s experience of A levels I can well understand that deaf young people find it hard to keep up with their peers. I have had to spend a lot of money on private tutors to give my son the extra support to keep up and follow the courses he has chosen. He has lost all confidence in his abilities educationally and this is very upsetting as he did well in his GCSEs and felt as though he could achieve anything.”
Support for deaf young people who go to further education colleges is clearly an issue we need to take a closer look at.
What did you think of the above case study? Have you come across similar experiences?