Greater recognition for deaf young people
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My name is Jacob Atkinson. I am a severely deaf 19-year-old young man who is passionate about seeing the Government improve the educational chances of deaf young people. After consistent applications and email communications to the Government and to the Official Opposition over the past year, nothing has been done by either party and I have received nothing but empty platitudes. In the recent General Election (June 2017), this issue was not specifically mentioned or campaigned upon in any party manifesto. Under the current Conservative Government, deaf young people have been failed appallingly by the Government's decision to decrease funding to local authorities, meaning that local authorities have been forced to cut the funding which they use to supply Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) students and schools with crucial SEND equipment such as FM radio aids, and give deaf-awareness training to teachers. (Brain Gale covers this issue well in his article 'Education Funding and Deaf Children' for The Limping Chicken.)
After years of austerity, the funding cuts across the country have become so severe that in some counties, such as Northumberland, parents are now being asked to provide money to plug Government funding cuts. This is extremely concerning, and the effects of the cuts can be seen in the attainment gap between SEND young people and children with no identified special educational needs: on a national level, almost two-thirds (58.9%) of deaf children are failing to achieve the Government's expected benchmark of five GCSEs at grade A* - C (including English and Maths), compared to just 35.8% of other children with no identified special educational need. (NDCS, 2015).
I want to encourage MPs to stand on this issue in Parliament, so that appropriate debate is generated; and to ensure that in future general elections, all parties have a clear commitment to working with organisations such as the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) to improve the attainability of deaf young people across the United Kingdom. Local authorities will be pushed to provide extra funding to state schools and academies under their control, so that schools have the necessary money to purchase SEND equipment and to organise deaf-awareness training for teachers who will be/are teaching deaf young people.
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