We have been looking at the data on attainment gaps between hearing impaired children and their peers with the National Deaf Children's Society, in the context of our public service agreement target to narrow attainment gaps between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. Our national strategies advisers are looking with local authorities at the proportions of children who are achieving less than levels expected for their age at Key Stages 2 and 4, and at the actions being taken to reduce those proportions over time. We have commissioned research from the National Children's Bureau and the Thomas Coram Research Centre to establish why there are such wide variations between authorities on the identification and classification of children with all types of SEN but using deaf/hearing children and autism spectrum disorders as exemplars.
To help narrow outcome gaps between children with SEN and disabilities (including children whose hearing is impaired) and their peers, we committed £18 million in the Children's Plan to: improving work force knowledge, skills and understanding of SEN and disability through better initial teacher training and continuing professional development; developing better data for schools on how well children are progressing, and guidance for schools on what constitutes good progress; and continuing to strengthen the position of SEN co-ordinators in schools. The Training and Development Agency is currently consulting on proposals for nationally accredited training courses for new SEN co-ordinators.
We have also committing to funding, from September 2009, additional places on courses leading to approved mandatory qualifications (MQ) for teaching children and young people with sensory impairments. The TDA has been working with interested parties to establish arrangements for making best use of the funding we are making available.
In addition, we have committed £800,000 for a pilot project to raise awareness of British Sign Language and upskill the current specialist work force.