Schools: Hearing Impairment

Education written question – answered on 29th November 2010.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Labour, Walsall South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education

(1) what steps he is taking to ensure that deaf children are able to receive high-quality teaching in British sign language in mainstream schools;

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure access to appropriate learning resources for deaf children attending mainstream schools;

(3) what recent representations he has received on the quality and availability of educational support and resources for deaf children.

Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather The Minister of State, Department for Education

High quality teaching is the cornerstone to improving the educational outcomes for all children. The Government currently sponsor the I Sign project-a three-year pilot led by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and the National Deaf Children's Society-which supports our position of giving parents greater choice by putting in place the British Sign Language (BSL) skills infrastructure necessary to make BSL a viable option for families.

Through investment in BSL courses for interpreters and tutors and the development of a new Level 3 Certificate in Learning Support (Communication Support Worker), the I Sign pilot aims to help improve the educational attainment of deaf and hearing impaired pupils by increasing the BSL skills of the workforce for ail those who work with deaf children and families, including those in mainstream settings.

Mainstream schools have a duty to use best endeavours to make the provision that a child's learning difficulties requires. We will be publishing a Green Paper on special educational needs and disabilities which will look at how to improve families' experience of the SEN system. As part of that, we will be looking at how to increase local solutions to better enable localities to develop provision that makes the best use of staff and specialist resources.

The Government value the important contribution from those organisations and individuals working to support deaf children and their families and welcome their input into how the needs of these children can best be met. The recent National Deaf Children's Society's Hands up for Help! report, as well as contributions received during the recent Green Paper call for views, will be considered in informing the development of the forthcoming Green Paper.

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