asked the Minister of Education how many children now attending ordinary primary schools have been found to be suffering from defects of hearing and consequential speech defects; and which local education authorities have instituted special classes for such pupils apart from speech therapy sessions.
The particular figure asked for is not available. The numbers of children suffering from hearing defects and speech defects noted at medical inspections during 1948 were approximately 19,000 and 20,000, respectively. Ancillary part-time instruction in speech and lip-reading is desirable for some of these children and is provided by some local education authorities, but full information is not available.
Will my right hon. Friend give some attention to the treatment of hearing defects, which often cause speech defects, and use trained teachers of the deaf in special classes?
asked the Minister of Education whether his regulations permit local authorities which cannot at present provide sufficient places for mentally deficient or seriously retarded children to reimburse parents who send their children to private clinics and occupational centres.
The Education Acts prohibit local education authorities from incurring expenditure on mentally defective children, that is to say, children found to be ineducable, and they are, therefore, not concerned with the arrangements made for the care of such children in occupation centres or otherwise. For educationally sub-normal children, with my approval, some use is made of independent schools and of home tuition in appropriate cases. The Acts permit parents to make their own provision for these children if it is satisfactory, but if the authority is asked to take financial responsibility it is for them to consider what educational provision is appropriate in the light of the available facilities.