How well are deaf children aged 5-7 doing in school in England?

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

This blog highlights some of the key points from the government’s data on the attainment of deaf pupils where a “hearing impairment” is their main type of special education needs (SEN) and where they have either a statement of SEN or receive additional specialist support.

Children are very dependent on their hearing to learn. Having a hearing loss therefore presents significant learning challenges to the child and those who teach and support their education.

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 may face. Indeed in recent years we have seen a significant improvement in the attainment of deaf children

The Phonics screening check

Phonics is a basic skill used in learning to read and write. Phonics is the relationship between the letter you see on the page and the sound that it makes when you say it. For example, knowing that the written letter “a” has the sound /a/ as in apple, or ant. Therefore acquiring skills in phonics is can be challenging for children with a hearing loss.

Schools are required to check a child’s ability in phonics when they are 6 years. The table below shows the percentage of deaf children who attain the expected level since this check was introduced in 2012. It is not surprising that deaf children will do less well than hearing children but the improvement between 2012 and 2013 is encouraging.

Proportion of Year 1 children reaching expected level of phonic decoding:

Year        Deaf children         All children
2013             41%                           69%
2012             30%                           58%

By the end of Year 2, 59% of deaf child attained the expected level in phonics compared to 85% of all children. These figures demonstrate the need for class teachers to work with Teachers of the Deaf to continue to help deaf children learn phonics.

Attainment at the End of Key Stage 1 (aged 7 years)

The table below shows the percentage of pupils attaining Level 2 (referred to as expected levels) in reading and writing. The good news is that the proportion of deaf children achieving Level 2 has improved over the 4 years by 8% for reading and 13% in writing. – This is slightly better than the improvement for all children so there are signs that the gap in attainment is slowly narrowing.

Proportion of children reaching expected level at Key Stage 1 for reading and maths:

Reading                                             Writing
Year          Deaf children      All children       Deaf children     All children
2013             66%                        89%               60%                  85%
2012             65%                        87%               58%                  83%
2011             57%                        85%               51%                  81%
2010             62%                        85%               55%                  81%
2009             61%                        84%               53%                  81%

The next table shows how deaf children are performing in Maths. The proportion of deaf children achieving Level 2 in Maths has improved by 6% over a 4 year period. – slightly better than the improvement for all children.

Proportion of children reaching expected level at Key Stage 1 for Mathematics:

Year         Deaf children        All children
2013                73%                         91%
2012                71%                         91%
2011                67%                         90%
2010                71%                        89%
2009                69%                        89%

What should parents do if they are worried about their deaf child’s progress or attainment levels in Key Stage 1?

It is important to remember that, like hearing children, deaf children cover the full range of skills and abilities. Further, your child’s hearing loss can delay your child’s development in key areas.

While it is important to have high expectations, your child may still be making good progress even if they have not reached the expected levels. In some cases children may just fall short of reaching expected levels and will catch up with limited support while others may require far greater levels of support.

The school should be paying particular attention to your child’s progress and “take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special education provision is in place”. In many cases the focus will be on communication and language as this is the key to other aspects of learning and development. If your child is not making good progress despite the schools best endeavours you can make a request for a statutory assessment of your child’s needs which may result in an Education Health and Care Plan.

Professionals who know your child, e.g. class teachers and the Teacher of the Deaf should be able to offer good advice. However, if parents remain worried about their child’s lack of progress and support , the NDCS is able to offer support and advice 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.

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