Deaf children's services ''not fully developed''
18 October 2012
Deaf children's entitlement to communicate and be communicated with is fundamental to their development and progress, according to an Ofsted report which said that this commitment, along with early diagnosis and timely access to well-coordinated support, helps deaf children's well-being and life chances.
The report, 'Communication is the key', was based on the experiences of three local authorities which highlighted how effective joint working across agencies made a difference to deaf children's lives. While the study found many examples of effective joint working to support deaf children, the quality assurance and evaluation of impact of services was not well developed. Overall, the auditing and reporting of the quality of multi-agency services were underdeveloped.
Ofsted's inspectors found early diagnosis and timely access to support to be crucial. For example, children who were diagnosed as deaf shortly after birth benefited from the newborn hearing screening programme. In each of the authorities visited, effective communication was well established between health and specialist education support services which ensured timely support was provided to families following diagnosis.
The allocation of support from 'teachers of the deaf' was important to helping parents come to terms with the fact their child was deaf and how they could best help them. These teachers played a pivotal role in providing and coordinating support and promoting deaf awareness among school staff working with deaf children, who did not all have expertise in this area.
Ofsted's deputy chief inspector John Goldup said: "What was clear was the commitment and determination from professionals and parents to work together to ensure children's needs were met. The expertise of staff helped to provide children with the right support at the right time. Staff empathised and understood the impact on children of being deaf, and recognised the importance for these children to find their own identity through contact with other deaf children and having access to deaf adults as role models."
The report said that training staff who work with deaf children was important to providing effective support. Whenever a deaf child started nursery or school the specialist education support team undertook deaf awareness training with all the staff working with the child, tailored for each child's particular needs. Specialist staff and social workers for deaf children also had appropriate professional training which kept their knowledge and skills up to date.