New education laws to improve education for deaf children

Originally uploaded to Flickr by Joep R.

Yesterday, Parliament shut up shop. MPs were booted out. Maybe even chucked into the River Thames. But before they all went back to their constituencies, last week they were busy trying to pass lots of laws before Parliament dissolved. And two new bits of law were created which are worth getting a little bit excited about.

These are the Children, Schools and Families Act and the Equality Act. The former introduces a new right of appeal for parents of deaf children if their local authority refuses to update their statement for special educational needs support needed at school. And the latter makes a major changes to disability discrimination law by saying that disabled children now have the right to specialist equipment like radio aid microphones. Previously, this was only guaranteed to disabled children if it was included in their statement of support. A rather strange get-out clause for schools has now been closed.

Why are they important? Government figures from last year suggest that deaf children are 42% less likely to do as well in their GCSEs as other children. It’s an obvious point but unless deaf children are getting the support they need, we won’t close the gap in attainment. I think the Government deserves some plaudits for getting these new laws on the book.

The bad news is that the proposed new law on pupil and parent guarantees didn’t make it in the end. The week before Parliament is dissolved is known as the “wash-up” period where MPs take all their dirty coffee cups to the kitchen and where the Government and the opposition party also have to agree what laws will pass in the short time left. The guarantees didn’t get cross-party support so they fell by the wayside. I thought it was a shame. The guarantees wouldn’t have changed the world overnight for deaf children. But they could have been an important means to an end; of setting out new entitlements that would, again, have helped make sure that deaf children get the support they need.

Still, a nice little bookend to the last parliamentary session. More information about the new laws is on the NDCS website.

What do you think? Will the new laws make a difference? What else needs to be done to close the gap? As always, good to hear your thoughts.


3 thoughts on “New education laws to improve education for deaf children

  1. I noticed the equality act did NOT empower BSL as a need in deaf children’s education or would enforce any demand for it…

  2. I would also like to see a requirement for schools to return data re disabilities to the dcsf. At present, this data is only included on census returns if the child appears on the SEN register. However there are many children that slip through the net, like my daughter who is deaf but top of her class (thank goodness! This is partially due to late onset of deafness). We do have support in place from the LA which was instigated by the hospital. I work in school and I know how data is recorded and returned. My little girl isn’t included in these reports.

    • Kat,

      You’ll be pleased to hear this is in the officing. DCSF are proposing to reform the School Census so that schools also report on disabilities, as well as special educational needs. I think they will start doing this from next year; the University of Bath is doing some research into this at the moment.

      It’s good news; hopefully, will mean more reliable information on deaf children.

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