Deaf children's entitlement to communicate and be communicated with is fundamental to their development, progress and wellbeing, according to an Ofsted report published today [17 Oct].

This commitment, along with early diagnosis and timely access to well-coordinated support, are also major factors in deaf children's life chances according to the report Communication is the Key. 

The report highlighted effective joint working across agencies and explored the difference these have made to deaf children's lives across the three local authorities which took part in the small-scale survey.

Deputy Chief Inspector for Ofsted, John Goldup said:  "This report provides some excellent examples of good support services for deaf children. What was clear was the commitment and determination from professionals and parents to work together to ensure children's needs were met.

"The expertise of staff helped to provide children with the right support at the right time. Staff empathised and understood the impact on children of being deaf, and recognised the importance for these children to find their own identity through contact with other deaf children and having access to deaf adults as role models."

Inspectors found early diagnosis and timely access to support to be crucial citing examples of children who were diagnosed as deaf shortly after birth and benefited from the newborn hearing screening programme. In each of the authorities visited researchers found effective communication was well established between health and specialist education support services which ensured that timely support was provided to families following diagnosis.

The allocation of support from 'teachers of the deaf' is also important to helping parents come to terms with the fact their child was deaf and how they could best help them with teachers playing a pivotal role in providing and coordinating support and promoting deaf awareness among school staff working with deaf children, who did not all have expertise in this area.

However, while the report found many examples of effective joint working to support deaf children, the quality assurance and evaluation of impact of services was not well developed and the auditing and reporting of the quality of multi-agency services were also underdeveloped. 

The researchers concluded: "Training staff who work with deaf children is key to providing effective support. Whenever a deaf child started nursery or school the specialist education support team should undertake deaf awareness training with all the staff working with the child, tailored for each child's particular needs. As well as this, specialist staff and social workers for deaf children must have appropriate professional training to keep [their] knowledge and skills up to date."

Read the full report Communication is the Key atwww.ofsted.gov.uk 

Posted 17/10/2012 by penny.hosie@pavpub.com