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Deaf pupils in the North West achieve an entire grade less at GCSE

DEAF children in the North West achieve an entire grade less than their hearing classmates at GCSE because they are not getting enough support, the National Deaf Children Society has warned.  According to its new analysis of the Government's 2019 exam figures, the average Attainment 8 score for deaf children in the North West is 37.4, compared to 48.6 for hearing children.  Worse still, as deaf pupils anxiously await their grades in 2020, the charity also fears that because Coronavirus has severely affected the support available during a crucial period of their education, the gap could grow wider still.

The charity says that the problem starts at the very beginning of education, with many deaf children falling behind their classmates as early as their 1st year at School. Just 36% of deaf children in the North West achieve a good level of development after Reception year, compared to 75% of hearing children.

The charity says that deafness is not a learning disability, so the gap in results is down to a lack of support caused by the Government's ineffective education policy and its failure to tackle the key challenges affecting deaf children's education. It is also concerned that deaf children have been seriously disadvantaged because the Coronavirus pandemic made it much more difficult for them to get support from the key staff they rely on. In addition, many resources that Schools were offering for learning at home were simply not accessible to deaf pupils, often lacking subtitles or translations into British Sign Language.

As a result, the charity is calling on Councils to look closely at how it will provide for deaf children as they return to School, making sure that any catch up programmes are accessible and that key staff return as soon as they can. It also wants the Department for Education to introduce a bursary to train hundreds more specialist teachers to provide crucial 1 on 1 support for deaf children.

Martin Thacker, Deputy Director at the National Deaf Children's Society, said:- "Right from the start of their education, thousands of deaf children in the North West are achieving less than their hearing classmates because they don't get the support they need. We know that Councils are under incredible pressure during Coronavirus, but there's now a golden opportunity to set this right and make a real difference to deaf children's lives as they return to School. This will involve providing the necessary resources for people working with deaf children and young people, helping Schools to introduce accessible catch-up lessons and reinstating the in class support deaf children need as soon as it's safe to do so. With the right support, deaf children can achieve anything, so even in these difficult times, they must still get the chance reach their full potential. If any deaf young person is struggling to access support, or they want to appeal their GCSE grades this year, I'd urge them to get in touch with us immediately so we can help."

Region Attainment 8 score - deaf children Attainment 8 - children with no identified SEN Difference Ranked (worst 1st)
North East 36.4 48.2 11.8 5th
North West 37.4 48.6 11.2 6th
Yorkshire and Humber 38.8 48.7 9.9 8th
East Midlands 36.8 48.9 12.1 4th
West Midlands 36.1 48.9 12.8 2nd
East 37.2 50.0 12.8 2nd
London 39.3 53.2 13.9 1st
South East 44.6 51.5 6.9 9th
South West 39.3 50.2 10.9 7th
England 38.6 49.9 11.3 N/A

Percentage achieving a good level of development in the early years foundation stage by Region

Region Deaf children Children with no identified SEN All children
North East 26% 78% 72%
North West      36% 75% 69%
Yorkshire and the Humber 38% 76% 70%
East Midlands 40% 75% 70%
West Midlands 34% 76% 70%
East 43% 77% 72%
London 46% 81% 74%
South East 47% 80% 75%
South West 42% 77% 72%
England 40% 77% 72%

Warrington challenger bank reaches ₤250m lending milestone despite COVID-19 pandemic

A Challenger Bank is celebrating reaching a "momentous milestone" having now lent over ₤250m to its customers in just less than 3 years.  Warrington based Redwood Bank has continued to lend money over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping out a number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The Bank has loaned nearly ₤100m since the start of the year, around ₤60m of which has been since lockdown began, on 23 March 2020. Having launched at the end of August 2017, the Bank has reached the landmark figure of ₤250m, just weeks before it celebrates its 3rd birthday.

Gary Wilkinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Redwood Bank, said:- "We're completely committed to, wherever possible, helping businesses grow, refinance and diversify, particularly as many are now having to deal with the consequences of COVID-19, and our figures speak for themselves. Reaching this momentous milestone in just under 3 years shows that we have had, and still have, a strong appetite to lend."

Redwood Bank was famously the 1st UK Challenger Business Bank to be completely:- 'born in the cloud' and when lockdown was announced, its robust systems meant all its staff could work from home, seamlessly.  Gary commented:- "Being such a dynamic and flexible bank meant we could easily adapt our ways of working throughout the lockdown and it's clearly worked, as customers are still putting their trust and faith into us. As lockdown measures continue to ease, now is the time for SMEs to start getting back on their feet, and we're here, ready and waiting to support them."

As well as the lending milestone, Redwood Bank is also applauding the fact that its business customers have also chosen to save around ₤350m with them since it opened.  No employee was furloughed during lockdown, as each and every member of the team was needed to deal with strong customer demand. Redwood have continued to hire, with 10 new employees having started during the Covid period, 1 due to start shortly and fourteen new roles currently being recruited. Bank of England Base Rate reductions, in March 2020, were immediately passed on in full to the Bank's lending customers and Redwood continued to offer competitive deposit products, such as its current 95 day business savings notice account at a rate of 0.60%. Redwood has, and always will be, an ambitious business bank, which was developed to offer a real alternative for SMEs looking to make sure their properties and cash work harder for them.

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