Majority of teachers lack training to support deaf pupils – report

Charity said findings reveal ‘shocking shortfalls’ as 86% claim their training had not given them enough information to meet deaf pupils’ needs.

18 March 2022

Nearly 9 in 10 teachers say they have received inadequate training to support pupils who are deaf, a new study shows.

In total, 86% of teachers in a poll of 5,332 primary and secondary school teachers by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) said their training had not given them enough information to meet deaf pupils’ needs.

The charity said the research revealed “shocking shortfalls” in teacher training.

In secondary schools, the figure was 84% but it rose to 89% in primary schools, which the NDCS said was fuelling concerns about how deaf pupils were supported in key early development years.

The survey found that 83% of teachers aged 50 and over said that their teacher training was inadequate for teaching deaf children, while 86% of teachers in their twenties said the same, which the charity suggested could show that training standards on how to support deaf pupils may have declined over the years.

There are currently around 33,000 deaf children in schools across England, and the vast majority (84%) are in mainstream schools.

Deaf pupils often achieve less than their hearing peers throughout their schooling and on average achieve a grade lower than hearing classmates at GCSE.

Just a third of deaf pupils achieve at least two A-levels or equivalent compared to more than half of hearing children.

The NDCS said that the Government’s upcoming Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review, should advise that deaf awareness be included in all Initial Teacher Training going forward.

The charity is calling for training that gives teachers a basic understanding of how to support deaf pupils, as well as knowledge about who to turn to for more specialist advice, so pupils do not fall behind.

Mike Hobday, director of policy and campaigns at the NDCS, said: “Teachers across England have presented us with irrefutable proof that the current system prevents them from helping deaf children reach their potential.

“We already know that seven in 10 teachers don’t feel confident in educating deaf children and given the shocking shortfalls in their training, it’s no wonder why.

“The Government must use the upcoming SEND Review to adapt Initial Teacher Training so it considers deaf pupils, their needs and the specialist support available to them. The Government must also ensure that teachers are able to access further specialist advice from Teachers of the Deaf when they need it.

“We all know the difference that an inspiring and knowledgeable teacher can make. Deaf students have just as much right to benefit from these teachers as their hearing classmates.”

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