Deaf children's futures 'hanging in the balance' if cuts go ahead
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 April 2018
A charity fears deaf children in Somerset will start to fall behind if £85,000 of cuts are made.
The National Deaf Children’s Society is campaigning to protect the services run by Somerset County Council as every teacher of the deaf in the county, along with teaching assistants who work with deaf children, have been asked if they would take voluntary redundancy.
The charity is also concerned access to technology will be cut.
The council says it is still consulting on potential changes, and expects more money will go directly to schools to offer support instead.
Sarah Collinson, South West regional director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking Somerset County Council has proposed such deep and damaging cuts to the system the county’s deaf children rely on.
“This service, the teachers of the deaf, the teaching assistants and the managers within it are an absolute lifeline.”
The charity says Government data shows deaf children in Somerset are falling more than a grade behind their hearing peers.
A council spokesman said: “No decisions have been made.
“In response to changes in the way the Government funds this kind of support, we are consulting on potential changes in the way support is provided in the county.
“More money is going to schools with the expectation local authorities will have more of an advisory role rather than provide support themselves.
“Children will still receive the support they need but we have not decided what the new service could look like – that is what the consultation will help us with.
“There will also be joint meetings with families and schools to understand the child’s needs and discuss the best ways of support them.”
There are 300 deaf children in Somerset, and 30 parents have written to the council asking it to reconsider its plans.
Ms Collinson added: “The council needs to spell out exactly how it is going to improve the situation for deaf children locally, and how it is going to work with parents to make sure their children get the future they deserve.
“If the council goes ahead with these cuts, the future of these children will be left hanging in the balance.”