The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

Models of Specialist Services for Deaf Children and Young People

Nationally a range of services exists. Models of provision vary from local authority to local authority. Possible models include:

Support Services
Units/resource bases
Schools for the Deaf

The support available to deaf children and young people within an individual authority may come from a combination of the above models.

1. Support Services

Support Services generally comprise teams of peripatetic teachers with specialist qualifications and other staff such as teaching assistants and audiologists who may have additional qualifications and experience.

These services work with children from diagnosis to 16+. They have a statutory duty to support children in LEA provision to 18. They may have funding arrangements in place through the LSC to support students at Further and Higher Education.

The structure of support services which work with deaf children and young people varies. The role of these services is to support deaf children and young people at the pre-school stage, in local mainstream schools and in other special schools within the LEA. Teachers in these teams may have an advisory and/or teaching role.

Some support services operate within one LEA. Others work across one or more authorities on a contractual basis.

The size of the authority will have a significant influence on the number of teachers employed. In a large county authority for example, the service may comprise several area teams. On the other hand, a small unitary or borough authority may have only one or two Teachers of the Deaf.

Some Sensory Support Services will see resource bases and units as an integral part of the continuum of provision offered, with Teachers of the Deaf and support assistants working as part of a team operating within a common philosophical and operational framework and allowing for the most effective deployment of all resources.

The most common structures of these services are as follows:

  • Support Service for deaf children and young people

    A discrete team of staff with specialist qualifications in teaching deaf children and young people, usually managed by a Teacher of the Deaf/Educational Audiologist.

  • Sensory Service

    A discrete team of staff with specialist qualifications in teaching deaf and/or visually impaired children and young people. A Teacher of the Deaf or a teacher of the Visually Impaired may manage this team. In some instances the Head of Service may have a dual qualification.

    In some teams the structure allows for the head of service to have one specialism and for the deputy head of service to have the complementary qualification.

  • Generic support services: “Inclusion Services”

    Support Services that have teams of teachers with a range of specialisms e.g. sensory, physical and language and communication. In these teams the head of service may have one specialism, other deputies may specialise in each of the other areas of need.

Role of Support Service Staff

Support service staff may provide support in the following areas:

  • support to parents and carers
  • In-service training for mainstream/special school staff
  • contribution to the assessment and monitoring of educational needs
  • development and implementation of teaching programmes
  • advice re modification of curriculum materials
  • provision of modified resources
  • provision and management of specialist equipment
  • specialist teaching and support
  • support at transition across all phases

To receive this support pupils may not require a statement of special educational needs.

2. Units/Resource Bases

Although known by many different names across the UK, a unit/resource base may be defined as specialist provision within a mainstream school. Some resource bases for deaf children may be attached to a special school catering for another primary need e.g. for learning difficulties

Specialist provision in these bases may include:

  • Separate teaching area
  • Teachers of the Deaf
  • Teaching assistants with experience/additional qualifications n working with deaf children
  • Specialist equipment and resources
  • Access to support from other agencies e.g. Speech and Language Therapy

According to individual need, pupils will receive specialist support in mainstream classes and spend some time in the base for individual and small group work.

In some LEAs these bases are managed by the Head of Support Service for deaf children and the funding is retained centrally. In other LEAs the funding is delegated to the school and the Head of the School manages the base.

In some services, the resource base is a fluid idea with resources moving with the child to and from locations, resources being fixed or moveable – both people and equipment. For many practitioners, the idea of a “unit” as a place with fixed resources set aside for the hearing-impaired child to return to does not accord with their view of best inclusive practice.

Where the funding is delegated, the most effective practice may be seen where the school and the support services maintain strong links.

To access this provision children will usually require a statement of special educational needs.

3. Schools for the Deaf

Some schools for the deaf are maintained by a local authority. There are also a number of non-maintained special schools for the deaf.

A qualified Teacher of the Deaf will usually manage these schools. They will cater for children from the local authority and for those from further afield. Many are residential schools. A number of these schools cater for children with additional/complex needs.

In order to access this provision, pupils must have a statement of special educational needs.

Some schools for the deaf provide outreach support to other mainstream and special schools in their locality, fulfilling a similar role to that of a support service. In some cases the local authority support service for the deaf is based at the special school.

Educational Issues Committee
September 2004