‘Our deaf children being targeted by Tower Hamlets budget cuts’ say mums
- Credit: Islam family
Hundreds of deaf children could be hit if some specialist support teachers in schools are axed in the new year in budget cuts.
Staff numbers could be reduced by half in Tower Hamlets Council’s Support for Learning service – from 28 to 14 – from April.
This includes the six specialists for the deaf who could be reduced to just three, leaving them each responsible for 170 children in schools.
Now the National Deaf Children’s Society is urging the town hall to stop any cuts and put families’ minds at rest by guaranteeing the support rather than “sacrifice deaf children’s futures just to balance the books”.
Husna Begum’s nine-year-old son Hamza Islam is profoundly deaf. She is worried that staff will be taken away if cuts go ahead.
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“That will mean more strain on the children,” she says. “How many more times will the council try to make cuts to rob our children of their future? We’re looking at losing half the specialist teachers.”
The family from Poplar rely on the service that supports children with special educational needs and disabilities, including 519 who are deaf and needing help in the classroom.
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Nosira Begum from Mile End has a 10-year-old son Aayan Majumdar who is also profoundly deaf and has had specialist support since birth.
Norisa said: “I worry about his future if this support is taken away. It’s always deaf children that are targeted every time the council wants to save money or make cuts.”
Aayan has had home visits from a specialist teacher assigned by the council who helped the family with audiology appointments and helped at pre-school with communication, sounds and language. He now has access to a specialist teacher at his mainstream school.
According to the charity, deaf children already achieve less than their hearing classmates at every stage of school, including two whole grades less at GCSE on average.
The society’s Hazel Badjie said: “Teachers of the deaf play a vital role in a child’s life with one-on-one support, monitoring their hearing technology and supporting them through school. They also provide schools and teachers with expert advice on how to educate a deaf child—but this could now be taken away.”
The council is carrying out public consultations on a proposed reduction in its Support for Learning Service which helps youngsters with special needs and disabilities. The proposals could have an impact the Sensory Support service, the authority admits.
A Town Hall statement to the East London Advertiser says: “We are consulting on our proposals. We are spending more money than ever supporting children and families.”
Nearly £20 million is going on expanding Phoenix special school to create more places for children with autistic spectrum disorder and new units in mainstream schools from next September. Places were being expanded at Beatrice Tate school for youngsters with impairment, while the authority also has two designated primary resources for deaf children or those with impaired hearing, as well as a secondary schools resource and a nursery school which specialises in supporting deaf children.
Budget proposals covering all council services are being decided in March.