The National Deaf Children’s Society congratulates the Scottish Parliament on the completion of its inquiry into the attainment of pupils with a sensory impairment. We welcome its report (published yesterday), which is the culmination of an investigation carried out earlier this year into the ways in which the attainment gap can be tackled for deaf young people.
The Scottish Government and other agencies are also to be congratulated on their collaborative approach and commitment to addressing the challenges raised during the inquiry.
With around 3,850 deaf children and young people in Scotland, this is a small group with highly unique needs. With the right support deaf young people can achieve as much as their hearing peers, but Scottish Government data regularly reports that deaf learners leave school with fewer qualifications and miss out on higher education and employment opportunities.
The inquiry highlighted many of the national and local challenges involved in delivering specialist support to deaf learners, 80 per cent of whom are within local mainstream schools. The inquiry also illustrated examples of approaches that work well, and support deaf learners to achieve their full potential.
This has been a positive year for deaf children and young people in Scotland, who have seen a spotlight shone on their experiences through both the inquiry and the historic legislation to promote British Sign Language, which Scottish Parliament unanimously agreed to pass last week.
We hope these significant policy developments will renew a sense of urgency around closing the education gap for deaf learners and this report will provide a fresh perspective on how best to achieve this.
The challenge now is to ensure the report is translated into tangible action and improvement for deaf learners so that every young person in Scotland has an equal chance to achieve their full potential and leave school ready to succeed. We are committed to working in partnership across sectors to help make this a reality in Scotland.
National Deaf Children’s Society director (Scotland & Northern Ireland)
West Nile Street