NDCS does Disability History Month – Part 1

Brian

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

It’s UK Disability History Month so I thought I’d take the opportunity to outline key events in the history of the National Deaf Children’s Society. Over the past 75 years, tremendous progress has been made in attitudes towards deafness. However, in writing this blog I couldn’t help but think there is still a remarkable similarity between the issues faced by deaf children of the 20th Century and today.

On the 15th December 1944 a group of parents of deaf children met in London because they were concerned over the impact of the Education Act 1944 on their children’s education. They formed the Society of St John of Beverley (who became the patron saint of the “deaf and dumb” in the eleventh century)  whose aim was to “to further provision of full modern education for all deaf children in England as originally accorded to hearing children”.   After a short while it changed its name to the Deaf Children’s Society (DCS).

From these small beginnings developed the National Deaf Children’s Society, serving the UK as well as supporting deaf children in Asia, Africa and South America.  Below I have highlighted some key events in our history between 1944 and 1964.

1944

David Jackson identified as deaf at the age of 6 months. David said his mother tried to cure it by placing brown paper soaked in vinegar on his ears and serving him a diet of fish and carrots. David said “people would try anything in those days”.

1945

DCS establishes a Teacher of the Deaf training bursary scheme and starts a campaign for the training of as many teachers as possible.

1946

DCS proposes that public health services should conduct hearing tests on children at an early age to ensure early identification and support. This campaign was finally won in 2006 when new born hearing screening was fully rolled out across the UK.

DCS publishes its first information leaflet for parents “If your child is deaf” and sets up courses for parents

1947

DCS lobbies the Department for Education to ensure teachers receive a salary while training to be Teachers of the Deaf.

child-and-teacher

1948

DCS links with groups in Glasgow and the Midlands  and then one in the NW of England. Over the next 10 years more and more parent groups are established throughout the UK and establish links with the DCS.

DCS produces a circular on research suggesting a link between German measles in pregnant women and deafness in babies.

1949

The Minster for Education agrees to fund the training of Teachers of the Deaf. The Society’s first campaign win!

At this time around 450 deaf children in London were out of school and in need of a school place.

1950

DCS takes up the case of a young deaf girl who spent years in a mental health institution before she was found to be deaf and not “disturbed”. DCS challenged the way the Ministry of Health identified children with a “mental deficiency”. 

1951

DCS suggests the shortage of school places for deaf children could be alleviated by attaching a class for deaf children to a grammar school. The Friends School in Saffron Walden agreed to be a pilot making the concept of hearing impairment units (specialist classrooms for deaf children attached to mainstream schools) a reality.

Two children learning to use hearing aid equipment

1953

The DCS commences evening courses for parents lasting 6 weeks on topics including supporting deaf children to read and develop speech and language.

The first quarterly newsletter for parents was produced. It continues over 50 years later in the form of NDCS’s Families Magazine.

DCS make access to technical training a priority as a step to work. A pilot is established with Regent Street Polytechnic for 4 deaf students.

DCS presses the Ministry of Labour to give disability resettlement officers and youth employment officers full information on the employment of deaf young people.

1954

DCS offers holiday weeks for families in caravans which were very popular.

DCS is concerned about the absence of books for deaf children. It offered £50 to authors to write books and guaranteed the publisher £500 to ensure publication.

1955

Ann William’s daughter was diagnosed as being deaf. Ann said she was told by the consultant that her daughter would never amount to anything and would need to be sent away to a special school which Ann refused to do. She was not given any information on any communication method apart from speech so the family had no choice.

First debate on the Education of Deaf Children in the House of Commons opened by Michael Stewart, Labour MP for Fulham. 

1956

The quarterly newsletter transformed into a magazine for members called “Talk”. 12,000 copies are distributed to families.

The society offers £25 grants to parents to help them pay for their children’s hearing aids.

Deaf Children's Society Talk magazine

1958

Parent groups from all over the country meet and form the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). They challenge the rigid approach to teaching methods for deaf children and reject the prevailing notion that a child who doesn’t speak is a failure: “A deaf child with no means of communication at all reflects a lack of flexibility of our education provision. Any method of teaching deaf children must ensure that each deaf child is given a means of communication” 

1959

NDCS establishes the Commonwealth Society to look into the welfare of deaf children outside the UK. Its first task was to raise funds.

1960

NDCS establishes the Deaf Children’s League of Service, proving volunteering opportunities for deaf children, encouraging them to be self-reliant and help others such as old people.

1963

NDCS responds to equipment requests and loans 38 Auditory Training Units to teachers to help children use their residual hearing. NDCS hoped the loans would convince local authorities to provide the equipment.

NDCS also provides 8 buses for use by local parent groups for deaf children’s excursions. By 1967 there were 17 buses on long term loan. It included one for the Manchester University Survey Team which was conducting research into the social adjustment of deaf teenagers.

250,000 copies of ‘What do you know about deafness’ were circulated as part of a deaf awareness campaign featured in newspapers, radio and TV.

NDCS bus

1964

NDCS’s campaign against the use of the term “deaf and dumb” meets with a measure of success when the Ministry of Health stops using the term “dumb”.

The Queen and Queen mother attend NDCS’s 20th birthday party (a reception at the Mansion House) joined by members of all 29 regional parent groups across the UK.

What happens next?

For what happened next read my blog on 1964 to 1984 to be published next week.

SEVEN WAYS TO OUTSTANDING PROVISION FOR DEAF CHILDREN

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

HOW KNIGHTSFIELD SCHOOL GETS IT RIGHT

In December 2014 Ofsted published its inspection report into the quality of education provision for deaf secondary aged pupils at Knightsfield School in Hertfordshire. The school inspectors graded the school as outstanding.

Almost three quarters of the students at the school have additional needs such as specific communication and language difficulties, dyslexia, visual impairment, specific learning difficulties and medical needs. Students’ attainment when they start at the school is low compared with that expected for their age.

Gaining an outstanding judgement is a remarkable achievement and a credit to the school’s pupils, staff and governing body.

The inspectors identified many positive aspects. Here are seven highlights in their report that caught my eye. They constitute some of the essential ingredients that have to be put in place if deaf children are going to achieve their full potential throughout the UK.

1. Achievement of students: Students’ achievement is outstanding. Every student leaves Year 11 with at least five GCSEs, including English and mathematics, some at the highest levels. The majority of students make better progress in English and mathematics than is typical for similar-aged students nationally. This means they catch-up or are catching-up rapidly with all students in mainstream schools by the time they leave, despite their low starting points. Students say they have to work very hard but are proud of the progress they have made since leaving their previous schools

2. Leadership: The school’s leaders have high expectations, monitor the school’s work well and constantly challenge teachers to raise the achievement of students and strive for continuous improvement. Governors are well informed enabling to challenge leaders and to support developments very effectively.

3. The quality of school staff: Staff have an excellent understanding of how best to promote the learning of deaf students and use this knowledge to cater extremely well for their needs. The teachers have an excellent oversight of students’ progress and provide them with good written and spoken feedback to help them to understand what they are good at and how to improve. They routinely identify the things that slow down students’ learning and seek the best kind of support for individual needs and abilities often in partnership speech and language therapists and audiologists and parents. Teaching assistants support students very well because they are trained well

4. A focus on language and communication skills: Teachers ensure students to make remarkable gains in their communication and language skills. Students make huge strides in developing their self-confidence and in their ability to communicate freely with others. This enables them to learn very effectively in class.

5. Links with other schools: The school has developed excellent links with a local school and a college enable its students to learn alongside hearing children in mainstream settings with excellent support from Knightsfield staff. This enables the students to benefit from their specialist subject teaching and facilities in the neighbouring school and college.

6. Understanding and meeting social and emotional needs of deaf students: The social and emotional needs of the pupils are met exceptionally well and as a result behaviour is outstanding with students reporting very little bullying. The school thoroughly investigates challenging behaviour of some students, due to their special educational needs. The behaviour is sensibly addressed and very well managed by staff who enable these students to learn to deal with strong feelings in a mature way.

7. Partnership with parents: There are very good partnerships with parents and carers, who are overwhelmingly positive about the school.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has maintained for many years that deafness in itself is not a learning difficultly. With the right support deaf children’s rate of education progress and levels of attainment should match that of hearing children. We are therefore grateful for education services such as Knightsfield school who are working so hard to prove this very point.

 

 

What Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2013/14 for schools says about provision for children with special educational needs

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Although almost 1 in 5 pupils in schools are recorded as having special educational needs (SEN), we are very disappointed there is not one mention of them in the main annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills issued this week. However, the supplementary Ofsted annual report on schools issued at the same time makes a small reference to how well schools are meeting the needs of children with SEN. Three of the document’s ninety five paragraphs contain a commentary on SEN. Below are the key points contained in these three paragraphs:

  • Many children with SEN come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Pupils who are eligible for free school meals are twice as likely as others to have special educational needs.
  • Pupils with SEN fulfil their potential when there are high expectations of what they can achieve and when there is an uncompromising drive by senior leaders to ensure that teaching is effective.
  • The best schools have a thorough understanding of their pupils’ needs and make sure that the right teaching support is available to them at just the right time.
  • Pupils with SEN do best when they are supported by excellent teachers. Unfortunately, however, they are often supported by staff with the least expertise in subject areas and teaching methods.
  • Teaching that is not tailored appropriately to pupils’ individual needs – for example giving them work that is too difficult or too easy – can have a severe, long-term impact on their progress and confidence.
  • Most schools monitor closely the progress that disabled pupils and those with SEN make in their academic subjects, especially in English and mathematics. However, less attention is paid to the progress they make in developing personal and social skills and in becoming more independent. Parents value these achievements highly and success in them can make a substantial difference to the young person’s future. More attention should be paid to supporting pupils in these important aspects of their personal development.

NDCS has recognised these and other factors as being critical in ensuring that deaf pupils make good progress in school and reach their full potential. NDCS guidance for schools on raising achievement include:

Given the significant reforms to SEN contained in the Children and Families Act 2014, we would expect the next annual report to comment on the effectiveness of education services in implementing these changes.

How well are deaf children doing in primary schools in England?

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

This blog looks at the Government’s data on the attainment of pupils in primary schools where a “hearing impairment” is their main type of special education need (SEN) and where they have either a statement of SEN or receive additional specialist support.

It is important to note that 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, good levels of support from parents and professionals and effective use of hearing technology can reduce the disadvantages. Indeed recently we have seen a significant improvement in the attainment of deaf children.

Attainment in the final year of primary school (Year 6)

The table below shows the attainment of deaf children in the Standard Assessment Tests. It shows the percentage of pupils attaining Level 4 (referred to as expected levels) in reading, writing and maths. The good news is that the proportion of deaf children achieving Level 4 in all three subjects has improved significantly over the 2 years. Thus, although there is still a gap in attainment with other children that needs to be closed, there are signs that it is narrowing.

Proportion of children achieving expected level in reading, writing and mathematics

Year Deaf children All children
2013 49% 75%
2012 44% 74%
2011 36% 67%

The next table looks at attainment levels in reading, writing and spelling, punctuation and grammar. It shows an improvement in attainment. However, there remains a significant gap with other pupils. The table also illustrates the need to pay particular attention to teaching deaf children spelling, punctuation and grammar and developing their writing skills.

Proportion of children attaining expect level in reading, writing and spelling, grammar and punctuation (SPAG)

  Deaf children All children
Year Reading Writing SPAG Reading Writing SPAG
2013 65% 58% 49% 86% 83% 74%
2012 62% 52% NA 87% 81% NA

 There are also improvements in the performance of deaf children in maths and the attainment gap with all children is gradually closing.

Proportion of children achieving expected level for mathematics

Year Deaf children All children
2013 66% 85%
2012 57% 84%

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

 It is important to remember that like hearing children, deaf children cover the full range of skills and abilities. Also remember 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 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. Others may require far greater levels of support to make good progress in particular areas of learning.

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”. If your child is not making good progress despite the school’s best endeavours you can make a request for a statutory assessment of your child’s needs and an Education Health and Care Plan. If you child is moving to secondary school it will be important for the new school to know about any issues so that plans can be put in place to provide support for the start of the school year.

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, then 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.

Free NDCS resources that can help your child’s development and education during their infant years

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Most NDCS resources are free but remember you have to register as a member of NDCS to get some of them. Membership is free and joining up is easy. Some of the links below will take you to the membership page. Once you have registered or signed in the link will take you to the document you want. You can also order any of the resources below by contacting the NDCS helpline.

Helping your children to read and write 5-7 years

Helping your deaf child to develop language, read and write (3-4 year olds): Although for the early years some of this may be useful for children aged 5 to 7 particular those aged 5.

Helping your children with maths 5-11 years

Helping your deaf child to develop early maths skills (3-4 year olds): Although for the early years some of this may be useful for children aged 5 to 7 particular those aged 5.

Starting Primary School: Guidance on choosing a school and preparing for the start of school

Supporting the achievement of deaf children in primary schools: This guidance is for teachers. You may want to see what advice we are giving and ensure that your child’s school has a copy and encouraged to read it.

Deaf children and bullying: Guidance for parents and professional

What are you feeling? A guide to teaching emotional literacy in the classroom: This is a tool for teachers to work through with children to help them expand their emotional vocabulary so that they can understand and identify how they feel

View our film clips on the role of a Teacher of the Deaf and the Educational Psychologist.

Hearing technology

Our audiologist gives step-by-step instructions on how to keep your child’s hearing aids in good working order. There are 3 short videos lasting 3 or 4 minutes covering , how to change the tubing in hearing aids, how to look after hearing aids and how to manage whistling in hearing aids

NDCS’s offers you a free loan of radio aids for 3 months to see if it is suitable for your child

Family Weekends

 NDCS runs pre school family weekends where parents get together to discuss their experiences and learn about the impact of deafness and how they can help their child’s prepare for school

Information on SEN Reforms: For information on the changes to special education needs and the implications for deaf children. Also information on the Equality Act

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.

Free resources that can help you support your deaf child’s development and education in the early years (0-5 years)

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Brian Gale, Director of Policy and Campaigns

Early years education from birth is critical for all children. It is particularly vital for deaf children to ensure that their ability in communication and language is sufficiently developed to be able to participate in teaching and learning in school and make friends and socialise. Parents and family are the most important educators of children at this stage of their life.

Below is a list of free resources that can help parents support their child’s development and learning in the early years. Please don’t feel overwhelmed by the volume of information available. Pick and choose what suits you best and digest in small bites. Please also don’t lose sight of basic key messages:

  • Learning should be fun
  • Several short sessions being better than one big long session. It’s better to stop when children are still happy in what they are doing
  • Learning takes place during normal day to day activities and playing games
  • Take every opportunity to communicate and talk to your deaf child ensuring they have the opportunity to express themselves (don’t hold back communication and conversation because they are deaf and encourage family and friends to fully engage with your deaf child. Take steps to ensure there is a good listening environment in your home and your child can make maximum use of their hearing equipmentSchools Fingerspellathon 09

Resources from  NDCS

The following resources can be accessed via our website or can be ordered from our helpline. Some of the resources are not available on the website unless you are a member of NDCS. Membership is free and you can sign up to become a member on our website.

Hearing technology

Our audiologist gives step-by-step instructions on how to keep your child’s hearing aids in good working order. There are 3 short videos lasting 3 or 4 minutes covering , how to change the tubing in hearing aids, how to look after hearing aids and how to manage whistling in hearing aids.

NDCS’s offers you a free loan of  radio aids for 3 months to see if it is suitable for your child. There is also a leaflet on how radio aids can help.

Family Weekends

NDCS runs family weekends where parents get together to discuss their experiences and learn about the impact of deafness and how they can help their child’s development.

NDCS publications on communication, language and learning

Helping your deaf child to develop language, read and write (3-4 year olds): This booklet provides practical ideas to help your child develop their language and early reading and writing skills. It includes information on creating a good listening environment in your home.

Communicating with your deaf child: This aims to answer the questions parents have asked about how to support their child’s language and communication development.

Communication Begins at Home DVD. For families with children aged under 3 years. It follows six children and their families on a typical day to see how they communicate.

Family Sign Curriculum: A resource for families who want to use BSL to help with communication. It teaches the signs and phrases needed for nursery rhymes, stories, playing make-believe games as well as the tools for practical communication about food, sleeping and nappy changing.

Playtime and deaf children: A guide to books, toys and other play resources for deaf children.

Helping your deaf child to develop early maths skills (3-4 year olds): This booklet will help you to develop your child’s understanding of maths through play and everyday activities.

Supporting the achievement of deaf children in early years settings and Early Years Matters DVD .These publications are aimed at professions in early years settings rather than parents but you may wish to ensure you child’s setting has a copy and is aware of the content.

For families in Scotland

In Scotland NDCS has received funding for an early support project “Your Child Your Choices”. Check out events that may be of help.

Other helpful Resources

Home Learning Programme: For parents wanting to develop their child’s oral  skills the Elizabeth Foundation provides a home learning programme.

Cued speech support: For parents wanting to investigate cued speech, information is provided on cued speech with babies and young child. Information can be downloaded at no charge but the Cued Speech Association does charge for some workshops.

Listen Up: Produced by the Communications Trust, games that promote communication.