Islington lacks of support for deaf children

Islington has been slammed for having an unacceptable level of support for deaf children.

Figures from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) reveal that there is only one specialist teacher in the borough for 95 children with hearing difficulties.

The ratio is far below the national average of one teacher for every 43 deaf children.

Jo Campion, deputy director of policy and campaigns for the NDCS, said: “The current state of educational support for deaf children in Islington is not enough – they need more support, not less. Deafness is not a learning disability yet 65 per cent of deaf children in London are failing to get five GCSEs grades A* to C, including English and Maths.

“This is unacceptable and we’re working with Islington council to ensure they increase the vital support that deaf children need, so that they have a fair chance to achieve at school.”

Altogether, 147 children have hearing difficulties in the borough, only 52 of which receive specialist help, either by attending the Hearing Impairment Unit at Laycock School, in Laycock Street, Islington, or being taught outside the borough.

Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington south and Finsbury, who has added her weight to the campaign, said: “I am writing to the local authority asking them to have a look at the problem and how we can get together to make sure deaf children get the help they need. Some children are being left out in the cold and we need to know why.”

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Despite this criticism, the council was recently nominated for the Signature Awards, which recognise organisations that improve access for deaf people.

They were particularly praised for introducing British Sign Language to its services and websites.

Councillor Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “The NDCS figures are wrong and we have written to them to clarify this.

“We have a ratio of 35 pupils to each full time equivalent teaching and teaching support post. Our advisory team for hearing impairment remains committed to providing whatever one-to-one support is needed for profoundly deaf children and their families.

“Those children with mild or moderate needs and who require less specialist contact time are taught in the mainstream classroom by appropriately trained teachers.”

“Schools like Laycock have excellent facilities for deaf children and have great expertise in ensuring children with hearing problems thrive.”