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Southport Reporter

Edition No. 87

Date:- 21 February 2003

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The educational psychologist assured me it would not interrupt the procedure. Sefton LEA however said I had 'forfeited' the right for her to be assessed. This was not true as the Codes of Practice state. I applied to go to tribunal, we won. They ordered the LEA to have Charlotte assessed. Almost a year passed but it was felt that her needs were not being met and then Sefton gave her a SEN statement and she continued at Birkdale being funded by Sefton LEA and not myself (I am disabled as a result of being a passenger in a car accident 14 years ago and it was a terrible financial burden) However, it is government policy to have children with special needs educated in a mainstream system -"inclusion". Mr. Blair, in his manifesto, said there is a need for special schools but the reality is that if the LEAs won't fund or place pupils there, then the schools are forced to close because of lack of numbers. This is the case with Birkdale School FHIC. They do the most wonderful work there. Charlotte has absolutely blossomed. She is nearly 6 stones in weight, she isn't bullied or taunted and her education has improved tenfold. All the pupils are treated as individuals. Their strengths are worked on and their weak areas bolstered and supported. My daughter came home and said 'Mum, I have got some work on the wall!' This was the first time ever. She was also chosen in a 'starring' role in performing arts. She didn't have any self-esteem when in mainstream. When I tried to re-assure her, she said I was only being nice because the reality was that she was never included or chosen before, so she 'knew' she wasn't any use. She has begged me not to put her back into mainstream and the nearest school for the deaf who uses speech and not signing is across the country in Yorkshire near Tadcaster. It looks like it is a brilliant school but why do I have to send my beautiful daughter away so that she can have the education that she both needs and deserves?”

There are some cases in which a deaf child went to mainstream school and was bullied by hearing children leaving that child very frightened and withdrawn. So they enrolled the child into a school and saw lots of changes which resulting the child’s becoming more confidence and happy. If they put

that child back to mainstream school, it might cause some downfall in self-esteem and interruption of education.

One child at the school said, “I like being with deaf friends as I feel so comfortable with them rather than with hearing friends. It helps with my confidence as well.” As an ex deaf pupil being both in mainstream school and deaf school Louise, our reporter who helped write this piece knows what is like for most deaf children in mainstream school. She said, “It can be very daunted experience because of the class sizes. It is harder to follow a teacher, word by word, as the teacher does not have any deaf awareness, or is not a qualified teacher for the deaf pupils. They also have to deal with the rest of the class who can hear. This caused deaf child to miss out lots of information, which results in them falling back from the rest of class peers. This leaves the deaf child at a disadvantage, therefore, this is not an equal access education. This might cause a deaf child who is being left out, to experience bullying, social isolation and low self-esteem. Whereas being in deaf school, the class size is small which is good as you can learn faster. Teachers are deaf aware and are qualified teachers for the deaf. The teachers for the deaf know how to communicate with deaf children and how to encourage them to get involved in learning with their deaf peers. This results in them being more confidence and mixing with their class peers.” If the Government wants to cut costs by putting deaf children into mainstream school and also making all education equal, then they are not aware about what deaf child needs. For example, some children might be entitled to an interpreter or a lip-reader because they cannot follow what the teacher might be saying and/or the teacher might do lots of walking around the classroom. Also, many deaf children would need a note-taker to write the information in full, in order to pass an exam. As they cannot take notes, the child needs to concentrate on an interpreter. So they would need English support as most deaf children use British Sign Language as their first language and therefore find English difficult. 

Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.