Primary School

For most deaf children, the local authority must set out their admissions policy, which will explain how you can choose a school and what to do if your first choice isn’t available.

Choosing the right primary or secondary school for your child is very important as it will influence their educational, social and emotional development. Try to involve them as much as possible in the decision – how they feel about their school will have an effect on their learning. Gather all the information you can to help you feel confident in making a choice that both you and your child will be happy with.

However, if your child has a Record of Needs, this document will set out which school is considered to be best able to meet the needs of your child.

Out of their Education’s caseload of deaf or hard of hearing children about 6-7% children have a record of need. The children with a Record of Needs have high needs, which may mean they are:

  • more often born with profound hearing loss
  • have very significant gaps between their development and that of chronological hearing peers, whereby they require regular, sustained intervention by specialists e.g. intensive specialist speech and language therapy
  • may have no spoken language and be reliant on sign language
  • need in-class keyworker support in excess of 15 hours per week and/or specialist teaching by a Teacher of the Deaf
  • unable to manage independently in mainstream learning
  • likely to have a placement at one of the resourced based schools (St. Clement’s School and Le Rocquier).
Choosing the right primary or secondary school for your child is very important as it will influence their educational, social and emotional development.
The usual process is for an assessment placement to be completed in the Primary ARC School [link to pdf about ARC schools] at nursery age. The decision to give a Record of Needs to a child is made by the special education needs panel based on assessment reports submitted by the Teacher of the Deaf, the paediatric audiologist, the speech and language therapist, the nursery and also an educational psychologist. In the reports, it is necessary to provide evidence of need, which basically make a business case for the accommodations needed to successfully include the child in mainstream learning and or withdrawal to the ARC at certain times. They are not given to a child without due process and scrutiny. They are also reviewed annually.
All children have a right to attend a mainstream school, unless their attendance at the school would ‘prevent the efficient education’ of other children there (e.g. because of significant behavioural issues or problems with space because of the number of children with one-to-one support staff or in wheelchairs in the class your child would join). In this case, the school would have to prove that it had considered all the reasonable adjustments which might have made it possible to include your child. Reasonable adjustments are required under disability and equality legislation in Jersey.

Reasonable adjustments are changes a school makes so that a disabled child can do something which they would not otherwise be able to do.

With the right support, commitment and encouragement from families and professionals, deaf and hard of hearing children can make the same academic progress as hearing children.

When your child is older, you’ll need to decide which type of school is best for them. At the time, this choice will be based on your child and their needs, your family, and many other factors, which will all change as your child grows, so no decisions need to be made straight away. The law requires all schools to take steps to support all children who have medical conditions and disabilities, including hearing loss, so that they can have full access to education
No two deaf children will need the same support – it needs to cater to your child’s individual needs. So, before your child starts school, you can talk to their class teacher or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) about what adjustments to put in place. You can also seek advice from the specialist education service for deaf children, who employ teams of Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs). The support should also be reviewed regularly and altered to adapt to your child’s changing needs as they grow up.
Make sure your child knows that the school day will be different from a day at home or nursery – split into different lessons, set times for break, playtime and lunchtime etc. These changes may be a surprise to your child unless you help them to get used to routines likes the ones they may have to keep to in school. Use a visual timetable or weekly planner with your child to get them used to daily and weekly routines and activities – write and use pictures and photographs to show what will be happening and when. You could also arrange a taster day at the school, so your child gets to know the routine.
Deaf children may have trouble making friends in school because of communication barriers. If your child has already been at nursery or playgroup they may already be fairly used to being with large numbers of children and different adults. If not, clubs, playschemes and playdates with other parents and children can help with this. See if there’s a local support group in your area.

When your child starts school:

  • invite classmates round so that your child has time outside school to form friendships;
  • meet up with other parents and children in your local park;
  • volunteer to help out on school trips where possible so you can meet other parents, teachers and your child’s new friends;
  • chat with other parents about your child’s deafness for when they go round to play or go to a party;
  • use toys to help develop your child’s social skills – for example, you could act out a situation where there are a group of toys together and one toy standing separately. Show how the toy on its own asks to join in and then they all have fun together.
If your child’s starting a new class or a new school, it’s important they feel confident to explain to staff and classmates about their deafness. Although your child will still be very young when they start primary school, start to encourage them to speak up for themselves and to ask for help when they need it. A lot of the suggestions above will help give your child the tools to do this when they feel ready. Try to get them involved with activities at school as this will show them and others that deafness isn’t a barrier to taking part.
While a lot of children and young people will not face issues with bullying in or outside school, some will, and as a parent you may have questions about what you can do to help, advise and support your child. It’s also vital to know how you can work with their school to make sure the bullying is being dealt with effectively. Bullying can take place in many ways and it can happen in a number of different locations.

Bullying can be:

  • Verbal;
  • Emotional;
  • Physical;
  • online (cyberbullying).
Bullying can happen at school or at other places like guides, scouts, sports groups and after-school clubs. Bullying can happen face-to-face, over the phone or through texts and online.

Deaf or hard of hearing children may be bullied for many reasons, such as:

  • lack of deaf awareness among staff and other children at school;
  • being more direct than hearing peers;
  • being less able to pick up on social cues, both verbal and non-verbal, for example, a sarcastic comment or tone of voice;
  • appearing physically different because of using hearing aids, implants and radio aids;
  • teaching arrangements which emphasise their difference (e.g. being taught separately from peers, being given different work or being supported by a teaching assistant);
  • negative attitudes of others towards any kind of disability;
  • finding it hard to make friends;
  • reduced ability to stand up for themselves or verbally defend themselves;
  • spending more time on the internet (because they feel more comfortable communicating that way than face to face), which may make them more vulnerable to cyberbullying;
  • speaking differently from other children at school.
It is important not to assume that all deaf and hard of hearing children are going to be bullied, but it’s sensible to be mindful of signs that it might be happening, especially since some children may not report if they are being bullied or are unable to because of communication or learning difficulties. Other children can be good at hiding their feelings.

All of the following could be clues that your child is being bullied:

  • difficulties sleeping;
  • becoming withdrawn;
  • bed-wetting (where this has not previously been a problem);
  • reluctance to go to school (or wherever the bullying is taking place, such as a sport or youth club), maybe faking illness to avoid it;
  • being frequently late for school (where lateness has not previously been an issue);
  • not doing as well at school;
  • changing, or wanting to change, their route to school or the time they set off;
  • being aggressive towards family members, teachers and/or other children, or showing bullying behaviours themselves;
  • coming home with cuts and bruises or with damage to clothing or belongings;
  • coming home hungrier than usual (which might indicate that their packed lunch or lunch money is being taken);
  • ‘losing’ belongings or money;
  • wanting to distance themselves from obvious signs of deafness or difference, for example, not wanting to wear hearing aids or not wanting to be supported in class.