2. What plans he has to improve the standard of national provision of education for profoundly deaf children. (111833)
Our reform of the special educational needs system will make it easier for deaf children and their families to get the full range of support they need across education, health and social care. Through the national scholarship programme, we are supporting teachers and teaching assistants to gain specialist qualifications to support deaf children. We are also working with expert voluntary organisations to improve the quality of information and advice available to schools and families.
My local authorities in Lincolnshire are continuing to invest in services for deaf children. However, the National Deaf Children’s Society reports that as many as one in four local authorities is cutting the vital services that deaf children rely on to achieve and succeed. Does my hon. Friend share my concern that too many local authorities are failing to protect funding in this area for some of our most vulnerable children, and what will she do about it?
I am aware of the NDCS report. I understand that the financial difficulties are making it hard for everybody across local and national government, and that all of us are having to make difficult decisions. However, the Government chose deliberately to protect the money for schools from the dedicated schools grant, so there is no excuse for wholesale cuts in this area. We are also supporting the national sensory impairment partnership—or NatSIP, as it is known—to work with local authorities to benchmark services and improve quality on the ground.