Top 5 Reasons why NDCS is calling for Ofsted to inspect services for deaf children

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

Arthur Thomas Campaigns Officer

We’re currently calling on the Government to require Ofsted to inspect local SEN services in England to make sure that local authorities comply with the law and to protect vital services for deaf children.


We have identified our top 5 reasons for why we are calling for Ofsted to inspect services for deaf children:

  1.  There is currently very little information about the quality of SEN services. Unlike mainstream teachers and schools, the skills of visiting Teachers of the Deaf and the quality of the overall service provided to deaf children are not subject to any formal scrutiny. We think this is massively unfair. Why should parents of deaf children get much less information about the support their child receives compared to other children?
  1. We are concerned that it will be easier for local authorities to cut services if they are not held to account for the impact these cuts will have. Freedom of Information requests have revealed that across England 37% of local authorities are cutting vital education services (such as Teachers of the Deaf) for deaf children in 2014/15.
  1. It’s unfair to leave it to parents to police the system – being a parent is already a full time job! Despite this, the Government have recently made loads of changes to the special educational needs framework in England without putting in place any system for external checks on how it’s all being implemented.
  1. Ofsted has already identified that local authorities are very weak on evaluation of SEN provision. In a 2012 Ofsted report on effective practice in services for deaf children, it was found that:

“There was limited strategic overview and no systematic approach across all services to evaluate the quality of services and their impact on improving the lives of deaf children.”

To date, nothing has been done to follow up this issue.

  1. The Government spends a significant amount of money – over £5,000 million – on supporting children with SEN through the ‘High Needs’ budget. Independent inspections of services would help focus on whether this funding is spent effectively and in a way that raises outcomes for children with SEN.

We believe that this small change to the inspection of schools could make a big difference to the quality of SEN services across the country. We’re waiting to hear from Ofsted and the Department for Education if they are going to take action on this. We will keep you updated with any progress or news on this important issue.

What do you think? Do you think Ofsted should be asked to inspect services for deaf children? Do you think someone should be checking the quality of your local service? Have your say and leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons why NDCS is calling for Ofsted to inspect services for deaf children

  1. I totally agree with you that Ofsted should be inspecting LA SEN services, for all the reasons you say – particularly number 3!

    But I don’t think that Ofsted in its current form is capable of doing this properly. Who would carry out these inspections for Ofsted? Their current pool of inspectors don’t have the experience, expertise and objectivity needed to properly inspect SEN provision in schools, let alone LA-wide. They can’t even be bothered to employ qualified ToDs to inspect special schools for the deaf, and they are not interested in raising their game in this area.

    My big concern is that if Ofsted take on the task of inspection LA SEN services, they’ll simply use their current pool of inspectors to do the job. Many of these inspectors – particularly the additional inspectors working for private sector subcontractors – also do work on the side as educational consultants. The biggest single employer of these consultants are local authorities. Ofsted have conflict of interest protocols in place – but they don’t enforce or police them, and there are loopholes in these protocols wide enough to drive a tank through.

    If one of these inspectors is tasked to inspect an LA’s SEN services – and that inspector is also providing consultancy services to the LA, or plans to in the future – are they really going to conduct a rigorous, complete and correct inspection? I wouldn’t hold out much hope, to be honest. Will inspectors fully understand the new and old SEN legislation and CoP, and understand when an LA’s SEN service is acting unlawfully? And if they do, would they act on it?

    The change you are campaigning for is well worthwhile – but it needs to be accompanied by a wholesale teardown of what Ofsted is, what it does, and who it employs to do the job. Without this, there is a very real danger that we’ll just get a broadcast of false confidence in the system that no parent on the ground fighting for their kids’ future would take seriously for a moment.


    • Hi Matt,
      Thank you for your feedback. I agree that there are a number of issues which Ofsted needs to address at the moment, however as a recognised inspection body which is already built into the education system and one which parents often refer to when comparing schools, we believe that the inclusion of SEN services within Ofsted inspections will lead to schools investing greater resources to ensure their provision is up to scratch.


  2. I think this is fundamental that ofsted checks that children have their needs met.
    I would very much appreciate it. Currently feel like i am bashing my head on a brick wall. I was warned it would be tough battle to get what my son needs. But it should not have to be.
    No. 3 is where we are at currently.


    • Hi Nicole,

      Thank you for feeding into this. We will keep you updated with any changes to the policy around SEN inspection. Remember the NDCS helpline is always available to provide advice and support, their number is: 0808 800 8880


  3. It is a fact that within the GCC mainstream primary school that have HI units that the hearing impaired and deaf children’s needs are not been met, that these children are being failed. Also BSL is for some their only mode of communication and yet these children are told not to sign but to use their voice. They are also told not to sign to other Hearing impaired children who may have hearing aids or colear implants. There is also very little support for the children to be able to access the school curriculum. I worked in a unit with in mainstream so witnessed this first had. So it is not only in England this is happening. Maybe ofsted should check the primary schools in Glasgow too.


    • Hi Lorna,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting to hear your experiences of resource provision, including the challenges that BSL users are currently facing. It will be interesting to see what effect the BSL Act has. If you would like any more information about policy changes in Scotland and NDCS activity feel free to email:


  4. Pingback: Campaign win! Minister recommends the inspection of SEN services! | National Deaf Children's Society Campaigns blog

  5. Pingback: Broken promises in education? | National Deaf Children's Society Campaigns blog

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