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NDCS Press release – Education reforms must consider deaf children needs

Posted in News

“The National Deaf Children’s Society welcomes the importance placed on early years support in a new report on Northern Ireland’s education system but urges policymakers to consider the unique needs of deaf children in future reforms.

The Independent Review of Education report calls for radical reforms, particularly in the early years and the need for increased investment to enhance access and improve the quality of education.

Authors of the review identified failings in the provision of services for children with special educational needs (SEN), emphasising that “thorough reform is urgently required”.

Among the reforms being proposed is the eventual replacement of classroom assistants with fully trained and qualified teachers, other professionals, or upskilled classroom assistants.

While acknowledging the importance of reform in the education system, the National Deaf Children’s Society urges policymakers to consider the indispensable role of specialist staff in providing support for deaf children.

Déirdre Vaughan, Policy and Campaigns Officer Northern Ireland at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Deaf children can achieve anything that their hearing classmates can with the right support.

“As the education system in Northern Ireland undergoes reform, it is crucial to recognise the necessity of specialist staff to ensure that every deaf child receives the tailored support they require to reach their full potential. Children with additional needs must be properly supported from their earliest interaction with the education system.”

Deaf children face unique challenges when they enter the school system. Often, they will be the only deaf child in a mainstream school setting, so it is essential that they get the right support from day one.

Ms Vaughan continued: “We look forward to engaging with policymakers, educators, and all interested parties to ensure that the proposed reforms include measures that specifically address the needs of deaf children and create an inclusive and supportive learning environment.”

The Independent Review of Education was commissioned in response to commitments contained in the New Decade New Approach deal, which underpinned the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020.”