Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from RNID (EY 72)

  I am writing in connection with the Education Sub-committee's current inquiry into early years education provision.

  RNID's primary concern in the early years field is the need for greater support for family services for deaf children from birth to two years old. For deaf children, this is absolutely crucial, as it informs literally their life chances and impacts directly on the five areas listed in the inquiry's terms of reference.

  There are three key points that have a critical bearing on optimum outcomes for deaf children in their early years development:

  1.  Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening and continuing support from birth to age two—Early confirmation of deafness through Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening (UNHS) and high quality services for both deaf children from birth to age two and their families are very important. Following discussions with Ministers and officials, RNID is hopeful that an announcement on the introduction of UNHS across the NHS will be made soon. If supplemented by high quality support for children and their families, the chances for children to thrive in Foundation Stage and develop with age-appropriate language and communication will improve significantly. Conversely, the current absence of UNHS is a major barrier to deaf children's early years education as well as to their life chances as a whole.

  2.  Inclusion dependent on adequate support—Attention needs to be given to the provision and funding of adequate support for deaf children in inclusive settings. For deaf children with significant and permanent levels of deafness, this means regular support from a qualified teacher of the deaf and/or learning support/assistant. RNID and other deaf charities and organisations are concerned about the level of funding for, and numbers of teachers undertaking, mandatory courses for training as teachers of the deaf. It is also concerned that the special educational needs of deaf children under the age of two are being overlooked by Local Education Authorities, issues raised in two recent PQs, a copy of which I enclose.

  3.  Promoting the development of language and communication to age three. A flexible approach is the third strand of getting it right from the start, along with UNHS and high quality continuing support for deaf children, from birth to age two, and their families. Deaf children considered as a group are likely to arrive at placement at age three with delayed receptive understanding of language and delayed expressive use of language. A more structured curriculum at this stage is likely to present difficulties for children for whom the priority is high quality conversational experiences in the context of free play/activities to promote the development of language and communication.

  These represent three key opportunities to lay firm foundations for early years education as early as possible, if excellence for all is to include deaf children. We would be delighted if the Sub-committee were able to consider and raise these often overlooked and marginalised issues with Ministers and in its report.

  Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can ever provide information or give evidence for this or other inquiries.

Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)

April 2000



  Mr Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what response he has made to the Audit Commission's report. "Fully Equipped", on the provision of disability equipment and services. [117367]

  Ms Hodge: I welcome the contribution to improving services for disabled people of the Audit Commission's report "Fully Equipped", which was addressed to the Department of Health.

  The hon Gentleman may wish to refer to the response given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr McCabe) on 29 March 2000, Official Report, column 336, regarding the Government's intentions following publication of this report.


  Mr Boswell: to ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement about the current responsibilities of his Department towards supporting the language and educational development of children under two years of age with a recognised hearing loss. [117364]

  Jacqui Smith: It is for local education authorities to make educational provision for children of statutory school age, and those over the age of two with a statement of special educational needs, including those with a hearing-impairment. Where appropriate, local educational authorities may also make special educational provision for children under two years of age.


  Mr Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many teachers enrolled on mandatory courses leading to a qualification as a teacher of the deaf in each of the last five years; [117365] (2) how many teachers undertook a mandatory course to train as a teacher of the deaf on a self-funding basis in each of the past five years. [117366]

  Jacqui Smith: The Department does not collect this information.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 11 January 2001