Parents of deaf children urged to attend online meeting with council over proposed teaching cuts
- Credit: Islam family
Families have been given the chance to fight for their deaf children’s futures and it’s one they must seize, the National Deaf Children’s Society says.
Last month, Tower Hamlets Council announced plans to slash its support for disabled children. The charity and parents were quick to speak out about the devastating consequences for deaf children.
The council has now announced it will hold a dedicated meeting for families of deaf children to express their concerns on Monday, January 4.
There are 519 deaf children in Tower Hamlets and the council’s proposals have put their specialist teachers in the firing line.
The council suggests reducing the number of teachers of the deaf from 6.8 to just three.
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The charity says it would leave each teacher responsible for visiting and supporting more than 170 children.
The National Deaf Children’s Society said the meeting would help parents to show just how vital teachers of the deaf are and to explain the damage that the proposed cuts would cause.
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The charity is urging as many families as possible to share their views and talk about how their deaf child would be affected.
The meeting will be held online from 5pm to 6pm. Parents of deaf children who are interested in attending can get the details from Tower Hamlets Council or by emailing the National Deaf Children’s Society on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fatema Khanam’s daughter Aleena Ahmed, six, is profoundly deaf. They live in Wapping.
Fatema said: "With cuts and reduced support from teachers of the deaf, my daughter will struggle academically and socially, which given her needs will really affect her progress and wellbeing.
"Although the proposal mentions alternative support, I’m unsure about the nature and quality of it and this is really unsettling. I’m worried about my daughter potentially missing out and becoming more isolated."
She is also worried that Bengali-speaking parents can’t access the material in the council’s proposal, mainly due to language or technology barriers.
She said: "They already struggle to express their difficulties and challenges to the council, meaning that unfortunately their views are often unrepresented in meetings like these.
“Many families will suffer in silence following if these cuts go ahead, which will widen the gap between these families and the community in terms of communication and integration. We have to keep these services.”
Shahima Kazi’s one-year-old son Mohammad Abdul Muhayin Karim is moderately to severely deaf. They live in Shadwell.
She said: “I feel very insecure about my son’s future. I will attend the council’s meeting to talk about it with other parents because I want it to be clear. I want to tell the council that, as families, we’ll all be affected by what they’re deciding to do.”
The council says it is spending more money than ever supporting children and families.
Nearly £20million 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.
Hazel Badjie, a campaigner at the National Deaf Children’s Society who is working with families across Tower Hamlets, said: “Families across the borough already know devastating cuts are on the horizon, but Tower Hamlets Council has still not provided much detail on what its plans will look like. As a result, families have been plunged into fear and confusion at a critical time in their child’s life.
“The council could easily set minds at rest by guaranteeing the support these deaf children need, but it’s seems much more keen to focus its energy on cutting costs instead.
“This meeting is a big chance for parents to now come together, demand some clarity and explain exactly how these devastating cuts will affect their children’s futures.
“The stakes just could not be higher for deaf children in Tower Hamlets.”