Schools are letting down blind and deaf pupils, MSPs say

Wednesday 23 September
Schools are letting down blind and deaf pupils, MSPs say

- September 23 at 6:15 AM

Schools are letting down blind and deaf pupils and they need better support to achieve their full potential, according to Holyrood's education committee.

Children with a visual or hearing problem, 80 per cent of whom are now taught in mainstream classrooms, achieve fewer qualifications than their peers, but most could achieve the same with the right support, MSPs said.

However there is a need for more specialist teachers qualified at the highest level to teach pupils with a sensory impairment, and all teachers need a basic level of understanding of how to help them learn. Some deaf pupils are better qualified in sign language than the adults who teach them.

The report reveals that the government may not even know how many children in Scotland are affected, let alone have detailed information about their attainment at school. There are an estimated 2,500 blind or visually impaired children in Scotland and officially 3,050 deaf pupils, but charities fear some are never identified.

For those of school age there are only around 80 teachers of the deaf and 58 teachers of the visually impaired. Fewer teachers are training as specialists, and nearly half of the current workforce are set to retire within the next 10 to 15 years.
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The committee says there should be more incentives to become specialist teachers. It also calls for more use of technologies such as iPads to help pupils, and says hearing and vision impaired pupils should be better helped to prepare for life after school.

The committee's convener Stewart Maxwell MSP said it was clear that education for pupils with sensory impairments could be improved.

“While there is some fantastic work going on in some areas of Scotland, for many, this is not the case,” he said.

“Proper support is needed for those pupils in mainstream schools. For example it is simply unacceptable that there are occasions when basic technological failures mean pupils are unable to access learning materials.”

Article source: Stephen Naysmith, Herald Scotland

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