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).
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 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.
Bullying can be:
- online (cyberbullying).
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.