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Deaf Children

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she is taking to discover the reasons for the low reading, speech and lip reading attainments of deaf school leavers.

A current survey by specialist Her Majesty's Inspectors into methods of communication used in special schools for the hearing impaired should provide fresh insights. The Schools Council, which is supported by my Department, has also sponsored a research project at Sussex University to investigate the language development of deaf children, including the development of reading and communication skills. Experience gained in the field tests has been disseminated to teachers throughout the country in a series of conferences; and the materials produced, including those designed to further reading skills of deaf children, are likely to be available to teachers next year.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will encourage schools to provide deaf children with more practical skills before leaving and to establish better contacts with local employers.

Teachers of hearing-impaired children are aware of the need to extend their pupils' practical skills, and modern buildings with good facilities increasingly encourage this. An inquiry by my Department in 1973 showed that 80 per cent. of the schools catering for secondary age pupils entered some pupils for external examinations in practical subjects. Contacts with local employers have increased and improved substantially in recent years; and more schools have established links with further education. My center hon. Friend is keen to encourage these developments.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities provide special facilities for deaf school leavers in further education.

My Department does not collect this information, but it is known from a recent survey undertaken by Her Majesty's Inspectorate that at least 60 local education authorities are making some provision in their colleges for students whose hearing is impaired. These colleges also receive students from other neighbouring authorities.