Communication is the key to deaf children's development


Deaf children’s entitlement to communicate and be communicated with is fundamental to their development and progress, according to a new Ofsted report.

Inspectors found early diagnosis and timely access to support to be crucial. For example, children who were diagnosed as deaf shortly after birth benefited from the newborn hearing screening programme.

The allocation of support was important to helping parents come to terms with the fact their child was deaf and how they could best help them. These teachers played a pivotal role in providing and coordinating support and promoting deaf awareness among school staff working with deaf children, who did not all have expertise in this area.

Deafness itself is not a barrier to educational achievement, according to the report. In the cases looked at there were examples of effective working across local authority boundaries to enable children to attend the right school for them. When children were diagnosed early, placed in the right school, with parent or carer involvement and with the right support, deaf children can achieve just as well as their hearing peers.

Training staff who work with deaf children was important to providing effective support, says the report. Whenever a deaf child started nursery or school the specialist education support team undertook deaf awareness training with all the staff working with the child, tailored for each child’s particular needs. As well as this, specialist staff and social workers for deaf children had appropriate professional training which kept their knowledge and skills up to date.
However, while the report found many examples of effective joint working to support deaf children, the quality assurance and evaluation of impact of services was not well developed. Overall, the auditing and reporting of the quality of multi-agency services were underdeveloped.