How well are deaf children doing in their early years (0-5 years) in England?

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

In England early years providers must complete an early years foundation stage profile for each child in the final term of the year in which they turn 5. For most children this is the reception year in primary school. The profile provides an assessment of a child’s attainment against 17 early learning goals together with a short description of the child’s learning characteristics.

The results from this assessment should be used to identify the child’s needs and inform what support and teaching approaches they need when they start in Year 1.

This blog looks at how the attainment of deaf children compare with all children. But before jumping into the statistics it is important to note that children are very dependent on their hearing to learn. Having a hearing loss therefore presents significant challenges to the child and those adults who support them.

However, early identification of a hearing loss at birth, good levels of support from parents, health, education and social care services and effective use of hearing technology can reduce the disadvantages deaf children face. Indeed in recent years we have seen a significant improvement in the attainment of deaf children in the early years.

What the result of the profile tell us

 The early learning goals cover areas such as communication and language, personal social and emotional development, literacy and numeracy. A child’s attainment is assessed as meeting the expected goal, exceeding the goal or emerging if the expected level is not reached. The table below shows the percentage of deaf children reaching the expected level for all 17 goals compared with all children in 2013.

As expected the biggest gap in attainment between the two groups is in communication and language and in areas most closely connected with language such as reading and writing.

Area of Learning Early learning goal Percentage reaching the expected standard in the specific ELG
Deaf children All children
Communication and Language Listening and attention 46% 80%
Understanding 43% 81%
Speaking 37% 78%
Physical Development Moving and handling 66% 87%
Health and self-care 63% 88%
Personal, Social and Emotional Development Self-confidence and self-awareness 62% 85%
Managing feelings and behaviour 58% 83%
Making relationships 60% 85%
Literacy Reading 37% 71%
Writing 30% 62%
Mathematics Numbers 43% 69%
Shape, space and measures 46% 75%
Understanding the world People and communities 51% 81%
The world 49% 81%
Technology 69% 88%
Expressive arts, designing and making Exploring and using media and materials 57% 83%
Being imaginative 55% 81%

(Source: From the Department of Education’s census which records information only on deaf children who receive additional specialist support where “hearing impairment” is the main type of special educational needs)

What should parents do if they are worried about their deaf child’s progress or attainment levels in the early years?

 It is important to remember that your child’s hearing loss could delay your child’s development in a number of key areas. While it is important to have high expectations it is important to recognise that your child may still be making good progress even if they are at the “emerging” level. Schools should be using the results from your child’s profile to identify where you child needs support to help them catch up with other children.  In some cases children may just fall short of reaching expected levels and will catch up with limited support. Others may require far greater levels of support to make good progress in particular areas. In many cases the focus will need to be on communication and language as this is the key to other aspects of learning and development.

Professionals who know your child such as school teachers and your child’s Teacher of the Deaf should be able to offer good advice. However, if parents remain worried and feel their child is not receiving the support to enable them to make good progress, the NDCS is able to offer support and advice. This can be obtained by contacting the NDCS helpline.

NDCS campaigns to ensure every deaf child is able to succeed, for more information and to get involved join our campaigns network.

Keep an eye out for my blog tomorrow which gives more information about the resources that can help you support your deaf child’s development and education in the early years.

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