To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 4 June 2018 to Question 146815, what assessment he has made of the effect of reductions in local authority specialist education services on support to (a) deaf children in early years, (b) deaf children at school and (c) deaf young people over the age of 16.
The Department is firmly committed to ensuring that children with special education needs and disability (SEND), including hearing impairments, receive the support they need to achieve in their early years, at school and college.
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced new provisions for supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities from birth until the age of 25, including those with sensory impairments, to ensure a joined up approach across the system. The focus of the reforms is on early identification of needs and a clear legal responsibility on education settings and local authorities to identify and address special educational needs, and the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans for those that need them.
It is for local authorities to determine how they allocate their resources to effectively meet the needs of their residents, including the provision of specialist services for the children and young people with a hearing impairment. However, to enable local authorities to provide services for those young people who have needs that are less common we are encouraging authorities to work together on such provision. For example, if one local authority does not have many young people with a hearing impairment they might work together with a neighbouring local authority and share the cost of providing services or resources.
For the early years, in April 2017 we introduced a Disability Access Fund, (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-business-sustainability-guides-for-providers/extra-sources-of-income-for-early-years-providers), worth £615 per child, and local authorities are also required to have a SEN Inclusion fund to support children in getting the best from the free childcare entitlements. Our National Funding Formula
(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-national-funding-formula-allocations-and-guidance), has an additional needs factor directing more funding to local authorities with more need.