Last week was full of depressing news about cuts to welfare support for deaf and other disabled children. So it was a relief to get a government announcement towards the end of last week with a glimmer of good news on the education side of things.
This was the announcement that the Department for Education would, for another year, protect funding for specialist education support services for children with special educational needs (SEN), such as Teachers of the Deaf, despite the growth in academies.
Why deaf children need protecting from academies? In a nutshell:
1) The Government wants schools to become “academies” and break away from council control.
2) When schools break away from council control, the council gets less money for vital services they offer to schools.
3) That money is given to academies, and the funding is split across all academies evenly – it doesn’t follow the deaf pupil, so some schools get funding for Teachers of the Deaf that they don’t need and those that do need it, don’t have enough to buy back the help that deaf children need.
4) Meanwhile, councils have less money and are forced to make cuts to things, like Teachers of the Deaf, which affects all deaf children.
It’s a funding system in which no-one wins. To the Department for Education’s credit, they have listened to concerns on this and have decided to make sure council’s don’t see any cuts to SEN services as a result of schools becoming academies. Just for another year though. We still await news of what long-term funding solution will be put in place.
This announcement also reduces the number of possible “excuses” that councils have for cutting services for deaf children. Vigilence is still needed though to make sure councils follow through on the government’s lead and protect funding for the help that deaf children need.
And on another note, the announcement also sends hope to campaigners that we can still get our messages through and be heard by the Government. No mean feat in times of spending restraint.