Seven things we’ve learnt from the latest CRIDE report

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research, National Deaf Children’s Society

Last week, the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) published the latest results for England from its annual survey of education services for deaf children. Though it has its limitations, it’s one of the best sources of data out there on deaf children and the report managed to attract a fair bit of media coverage (including in the Huffington Post and the Guardian). In this blog, I set out my own personal take on seven key findings from the report

1. There are more deaf children

Or, at least, there are more deaf children that local authorities know about. There are now at least 45,631 deaf children in England, a reported 11% increase over the previous year. It’s difficult to be sure whether this is because there are genuinely more deaf children and/or whether local authorities are getting better at identifying those that live in their area.

2. There are fewer Teachers of the Deaf

In 2017, we saw a 2% decline in the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf in England. Since 2011, we’ve seen a whopping 14% decline. These figures don’t take into account the number of trainee Teachers of the Deaf or Teachers of the Deaf in special schools – but it’s still clear there has been a significant long-term decline. Despite this, government action to address this has not been forthcoming.

3. There’s a looming retirement crunch

Over half of all visiting Teachers of the Deaf are over the age of 50, meaning they’re likely to retire in the next ten to fifteen years. Combined with the long-term decline in numbers of Teachers of the Deaf, this could have a disastrous effect on deaf children, unless urgent action is taken by the Government.

4. Deaf children continue to be a diverse bunch

We know, for example, that 7% of deaf children have at least one cochlear implant, 14% use English as an additional spoken language at home while 22% have an additional special educational need. There can be a huge variety of need within deaf children which has important implications for Teacher of the Deaf training.

5. We still have an incomplete picture on post-16

It’s clear that local authorities continue to struggle in identifying deaf young people post-16, despite the introduction of a new 0 to 25 special educational needs framework in 2014 in England. For example, local authorities told us that 1,356 deaf young people left school in 2016. This is far less than we’d expect, based on what we know about the number of secondary aged pupils.

6. We know a bit more about the use of sign language in education

We already knew, from previous CRIDE surveys, that around 10% of all deaf children used sign language in education in some form. For the first time, instead of asking about all children, CRIDE asked about those who are severely or profoundly deaf. This revealed that, of this group, 29% use sign language in education, of which 8% use British Sign Language. It’s important to note that this doesn’t tell us about how much sign language is being used outside of school.

7. Government statistics on deaf children are still flawed

We know from CRIDE that there are over 45,000 deaf children across England. However, if we were to look at government figures, we’d be missing a large chunk of this group, around 42% of all deaf children. We’re calling on the Government to get better at collecting data on all deaf children.

There are still more stats yet to come – expect reports on deaf children in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the next month.

10 questions parents ask NDCS about audiology services

Vicki Kirwin Development Manager (Audiology & Health)

Vicki Kirwin, Development Manager (Audiology and Health)

1)    How often should my child be seen by an audiologist?

When children are very young or have complex needs appointments may be as frequently as every three months. As children get older the number of visits will gradually decrease until school age when they should be seen at least once a year. Children who wear hearing aids should be offered regular routine appointments so that their hearing and ears can be checked, hearing aids adjusted if necessary and their progress with the hearing aids monitored.

2)    Help! My child’s hearing aid isn’t working. What can I do?

It might be something very simple that you can fix yourself. Grab your child’s hearing aid care kit and watch this video to help you find the problem. If it still isn’t working contact your child’s audiologist as soon as possible. Faulty hearing aids should be replaced within two days of you notifying audiology of a problem.

3)    Arghhhhh, this whistling is driving me mad! What can I do?

The most common reason for whistling in children’s hearing aids is because they have started to grow out of their earmoulds allowing sound to escape through the gap around the edges of the mould. When this happens children need to have impressions taken for new earmoulds. This video also gives some suggestions on managing feedback.

4)    Can my child choose the colour of their hearing aids?

Yes! NHS hearing aids are available in a range of hair colours that can be used with clear earmoulds to blend in as much as possible or in a range of bright colours to match their favourite colour. Earmoulds are also available in clear with glitter or with pictures or logos inside them. You can also decorate your child’s hearing aids .

5)    I’ve run out of batteries, what should I do?

The NHS will provide a supply of batteries free of charge for your child’s hearing aids or cochlear implant. You may also be able to get replacement batteries from your local health centre or GP surgery, Teacher of the Deaf, or audiology clinic. In an emergency it is possible to purchase batteries for hearing aids from most high street chemists and hearing aid dispensers.

6)    My child has lost their hearing aids, will I have to pay for them?

The NHS provides all hearing aid equipment on a permanent loan basis and it always remains the property of the NHS. The NHS may charge people for the loss or breakage of hearing aids but there are guidelines they have to follow and some people are exempt from charges. For more information on possible charges and insuring NHS equipment either download the NDCS policy on lost hearing equipment and insurance or contact us.

7)    Can I get help with travel costs to the hospital?

You may be entitled to help with your travel costs through the ‘Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme’ (HTCS) if you are under the care of a consultant and receive either Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, are named on a NHS tax exemption certificate or qualify under the NHS low-income scheme. Further information is available here.

8)    When will my child transfer to the adult audiology service?

Some services specify an age to transfer, usually between 16 and 21. Your family should be involved in the decision on when the right time is for them to transfer. You should be offered an appointment with the adult service before the paediatric service discharges you from their care so that you have time to ask any questions or raise any concerns beforehand. Information for young people about moving on to adult services can be found on The Buzz website.

9)    Can I give my opinions or get involved in service improvement?

Yes. All hospital departments have a suggestion box and audiology services will also routinely ask for feedback to find out if their service users are happy with the service provided. Some services also arrange events for children and young people to ask their opinions face-to-face. Most services have a local Children’s Hearing Service Working Group (CHSWG) or similar group and you can get involved in this to give your opinions on the service

10) What can I do if I am unhappy with my audiology service?

The first step should be to speak to your Lead Clinician, Keyworker or the Head of Service and explain your concerns to them. If your concern is a general one or you have suggestions for ways to improve the service provided you could also contact your local Children’s Hearing Service Working Group (CHSWG).

If you want to make a complaint you can contact the hospital PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) who can discuss the situation with the department for you. Every Hospital Trust has a complaints procedure that is available in waiting areas, from their website or you can request it from them directly. Trusts are obliged to reply to you in writing within a specified time. For information on the NHS complaints procedure click here.

You can read more about what you can expect from your child’s audiology service here.

If you have concerns or are having difficulties accessing your audiology service, contact our Freephone Helpline on 0808 800 8880 or email them at