CIE0267

Written evidence submitted by British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD)

 

Summary of submission to the Education Select Committee by

the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf

 

 

BATOD (British Association of Teachers of the Deaf) is the sole professional association for Teachers of the Deaf in the UK. It represents the great majority of the Teachers of the Deaf in the country (CRIDE, 2018). We also have Associate members who are not Teachers of the Deaf but allied professionals. Members work in all settings from the homes of deaf babies to Universities, and mainstream schools with and without special provision, schools for the deaf and other special schools, hospital implant centres and charities.

 

We contacted all members by newsletter, our website and by posting on our social media accounts.  We surveyed the views of members on how COVID-19 is affecting education and children’s services with respect to deaf children and young people, through a range of questions including the specific questions raised by the Education Select Committee Inquiry.

 

The majority of respondents work in Sensory Support Services, followed by mainstream schools, special schools, resourced provision, independent schools and auditory implant services. 

 

Of the 438 members who responded to our survey 85 chose to answer the specific ‘Call for evidence’ questions set out by the Education Select Committee to assess the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. We have collated the two sets of responses using the Inquiry questions as the basis of this submission.

 

In addition to the range of Select Committee questions there were several key areas of concern raised by the respondents.

 

Many if not most of the issues raised throughout the responses apply equally to all children and young people including those with SEND. However, there are certain areas which cause particular challenges for deaf children and young people (DCYP) and the teachers and others who work with them, and their families. These include suitable access to remote learning which is an issue which arose many times – ensuring that online lessons and materials are suitably differentiated and captioned and that BSL support is available where necessary. Lack of technology in the home and concerns about DCYP with EAL were often raised.

 

Time lost due to school closures can lead to regression for DCYP as they are not getting the specialist support they require to progress in terms of their general linguistic and educational development and to access the curriculum. This may result in a widening of the attainment gap with their hearing peers. Not all schools have been making use of the expertise of the specialist teacher when sending work home and the support which children had before the outbreak is not always available. Many responses suggested that a strong element of catch up will be required on return to school. There was concern also that on return to school specialist teachers from outside the school eg LA support services might be not be welcome in school because their job necessarily involves visiting multiple locations.

 

In addition to this, concern is expressed throughout about suitable support for assistive listening devices such as hearing aids, radio aids and cochlear and other implants when the Teacher of the Deaf and/or hospital clinic are not able to provide regular support. This is likely to have a material and negative impact on all aspects of the deaf child’s development and this is a high priority.

 

It is important also to note that on detection of deafness, deaf babies and their families are supported in the home. Clearly this is not currently happening and remote contact is no substitute for the ongoing relationship between a Teacher of the Deaf and the family. There are inevitable concerns about the early development of deaf babies and children as a result and indeed for those children where detection occurs during school years.

 

A frequent concern raised was the implication of transition on deaf children – especially from Year 6 to Year 7. Pupils moving from school to further education where the support mechanisms are not necessarily well established was also an issue.

 

The responses also provided a very helpful perspective from our members who are themselves deaf, who not only have their own challenges with access but are able to understand in depth the concerns of parents and young people especially in relation to remote learning which still continues for many.

 

This, and aspects of our submission, highlights the need also to consider the effects on teachers and other professionals which are often overlooked.

 

Issues for children with additional needs such as deafblindness having potentially greater difficulties also need thoughtful consideration.

 

The need for close collaborative working with Health and Social Care professionals is also crucial for deaf CYP and may be under strain at the current time.

 

The mental health implications of periods without school or support are a high priority with many deaf children showing anxiety.

 

Our submission does not however just highlight the negatives - it also describes what Teachers of the Deaf have been doing to support deaf children in these difficult times as well as suggesting other support remedies for the present and also for the future return to school.

 

The report of course covers all these aspects in detail and ends with five key recommendations which are both pertinent but also realistic. They are drawn from the key threads within the report. Because deafness is a low incidence SEND it is easy for it to be overlooked and a key purpose of our submission is to make sure that does not happen. The understanding of the needs of deaf children and young people needs to be embedded in all levels of education from schools, to Local Authorities to the Department of Education and we hope that our submission contributes to that.

 

Our five recommendations are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Simpson and Teresa Quail, National Executive Officers on behalf of the BATOD Steering Group and wider membership.

 

June 2020

 

 

Submission to the Education Select Committee by

the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf

 

The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services

 

  1. Introduction

 

BATOD (British Association of Teachers of the Deaf) is the sole professional association for Teachers of the Deaf in the UK. It represents the great majority of the over 1484+ Teachers of the Deaf in the country (CRIDE, 2018). We also have associate members who are not Teachers of the Deaf but allied professionals. Members work in all settings from the homes of deaf babies to Universities, and in mainstream schools with and without special provision, schools for the deaf and other special schools, hospital implant centres and charities.

 

We contacted all members by newsletter, our website and by posting on our social media accounts.  We surveyed the views of members on how COVID-19 is affecting education and children’s services with respect to deaf children and young people through a range of questions. We asked about the impact on children and young people, their families, educational staff and wider society.  We also gathered views on the specific questions raised by the Education Select Committee Inquiry. 

 

438 members responded to our survey of whom only two did not consent to the anonymous survey.  Members who answered the survey described themselves as: 

 

Qualified Teacher of the Deaf 79% 

Trainee Teacher of the Deaf 7% 

Educational Audiologist 7% 

Educational Audiology Technician 1% 

Allied Health Professional 2% 

Other practitioner 4% 

 

The majority of respondents work in Sensory Support Services, followed by mainstream schools, special schools, resourced provision, independent schools and auditory implant services. 

 

85 respondents to the BATOD survey chose to answer the specific ‘Call for evidence’ questions set out by the Education Select Committee to assess the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. We have collated the two sets of responses using the Inquiry questions as the basis of this submission.

 

  1. How consistently is the definition of ‘critical’ work/worker being applied in your field? 

 

Summary 

 

      was not consistent. 

 

Many respondents said they were described as ‘essential but not critical’ and described frustrations or felt undervalued as QToDs (Qualified Teachers of the Deaf).

 

Quotations from members’ responses:

 

 

 

  1. How well are schools supported to remain open for children of critical workers? 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses

 

  

 

BATOD members were asked for their views about the impact on the education settings themselves:

 

Key points from their responses:

 

Schools have had to respond quickly; the challenges this has caused included: 

 

 

However, Teachers of the Deaf have found creative ways of working 

 

What Teachers of the Deaf have done or will do:

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses

 

As ToDs we have provided a link between school and home as we have often been involved with families for a long time. 

 

The needs of deaf children overlooked in the middle of challenges all schools and settings are facing. 

 

  1. The impact the closure will have on children’s early development

 

Summary 

 

 

Members were concerned about those ion early years especially the newly detected:

 

support for BSL 

support groups etc 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The effect of closures on the childcare market 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses:

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The impact of cancelling formal exams 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses: 

 

Massive lifelong impact - the experience of preparing for, going through and completing formal exams is character building and an experience everyone you know has gone through. For this cohort of CYP they will miss out on the experience and what can be learned from it and miss out on sharing it with others, casting their mind back to the emotions that can only be felt by the experience - doing better or worse than expected, feeling proud of yourself, wanting to do better. It may also be a label they carry for life - the corona kids who had exams handed to them on a plate. 

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on the implications of the cancelling of examinations:

 

Their responses reflect the views of those working with all ages - primary, secondary – SATs, GCSEs, A levels... 

 

There was a mixed response – some pupils are relieved, others are disappointed that they can’t show what they know and can do. 

 

Exams although challenging are a key rite of passage which is lost for current Year 11s 

 

  1. The fairness of the way qualifications will be awarded under the new assessment arrangements. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

  

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on the implications of the fairness of assessment.

 

It is vital that access arrangements are taken into account when determining grades for Years 11 and 13; there is concern about low expectations in schools  the role of the QToD in determining grades is crucial. BATOD was pleased that Ofqual recognised this and included it in the guidance to centres. It is helpful that a resit possibility in the Autumn is available.  

 

Quotations from members’ responses:

 

 Grade awarded on the evidence presented by coursework will remove stress and anxiety for the majority. However, the absence of special accessibility arrangements will deny many the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and ability.

 

I am concerned that dispensations for some pupils will not have been considered fully and that students will receive inappropriate grades.

 

What BATOD did:

 

Worked with Ofqual and other organisations supporting candidates with sensory impairment to ensure that centres are strongly encouraged to involve specialist teachers in the determination of grades and rankings.

 

  1. The impact exam cancellation will have on pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

 

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on the impact on progression.

 

Many pupils are experiencing anxiety and reduced motivation for the future; there will be a general negative effect on mental health and well being from the cancellation of exams. 

 

There are concerns that the learning gap may increase due to lost time; there will be a need for additional time for support; there is fear of regression 

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

 

 

  1. The consistency of messaging on remote learning 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses:  

 

 

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on issues related to remote learning.

 

 

Deaf Teacher of the Deaf (DToD) members raised some specific issues:

 

Some DToDs report a range of challenges with online platforms, which would also reflect the experiences of some deaf children, young people and deaf parents.

 

Signing related

Audio related

Sharing information at the same time as signing to students

Delay between sound and image meaning the lips do not match

Microsoft Teams makes it impossible for interpreters to be seen on the video call

Sound quality varies

 

Time lag/speed of reception varies

 

Has captions but these don't always go with what is being said all the time ‘Google hangout better than Microsoft Teams’.

Communication overload with larger numbers on Zoom etc

Listening fatigue, communication overload with larger numbers on Zoom etc

 

Expense upgrading web am, speakers, need to buy high quality ear phones that fit over postaurals, upgrade Office software (to get Teams with captions), required ComPilot 2 to access phone and computer

 

Lack of provision of a transcript of a recorded video. When it has been provided in advance by a webinar provider it has been valued

 

Some DToDs are limited by their Authority’s regulations relating to Skype and Zoom, ie it is not permitted in some areas, or limited by employer’s current provision of suitable technology (one reported that they only use FaceTime through personal phones as work phones don’t support it).

 

For one DToD virtual meetings may be “actually more accessible than physically attending meetings for me. I hear each speaker clearly streaming from my Mini Mic and Roger systems. Distance across meeting rooms and locating speakers are no longer barriers.”. Others are using a mixture of British Sign Language and assistive technology depending on the nature of the call and the video platform being used. Others highlight the problem of “reading body language in meetings”.

 

What Teachers of the Deaf have done:

 

  

  1. The impact on mental health and wellbeing. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

  

 

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on issues related to mental health.

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

 

 

We asked about transitions and the effects on mental health and wellbeing. They are not covered in government guidance.

 

Issued raised by members included pupil and teacher anxiety, lack of closure at the end of years at primary school for Year 6 pupils (P7 in Scotland) ; not saying goodbye to key personnel (having had the same TA throughout their school career for example) and peers.

 

What ToDs did or will do at the appropriate time:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses:

 

 

 

 

  1. The impact on wellbeing and personal safety 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses 

 

 

Section 17 below contains many more observations form members about these issues.

  

  1. The effect on apprenticeships and other workplace-based education courses. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

 

 

  

  1. Financial implications of closures for pupils, families, educational settings and training providers. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

 

 

  1. The DfE’s approach to free school meals. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

 

 

 

  1. The impact on vulnerable children. 

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses:

 

 

BATOD members were asked to comment more widely on issues related to vulnerable children and safeguarding:

 

 

There were concerns expressed about meeting health and safety needs/social distancing and the negative impact for deaf CYP.  Many of these are discussed further in section 17 below.

 

  1. Contingency planning for the future

 

Summary 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

 

 

 

  1. BATOD members were asked to summarise the overall impact on deaf children and young people:

 

They highlighted issues raised in the responses above including isolation, emotional wellbeing, access to resources and gaps in learning 

 

They identified some positives which had emerged:

 

 

Challenges included:

 

 

What are Teachers of the Deaf doing to mitigate some of these challenges?

 

 

 

 

 

Opportunities 

 

 

  1. BATOD members were also asked about the impact on Teacher of the Deaf

 

We asked specific questions of our Deaf Teacher of the Deaf members about their particular experiences. Their responses highlighted a range of issues:

 

 

 

 

 

Quotation from members’ responses: 

 

 

 

Audiological issues

 

 

 

Working as a home-based ToD

 

 

 

 

 

The following issues were raised in relation to the effect of the virus and the school closures on all Teachers of the Deaf:

 

 

Other points made in members’ responses: 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

We are still contributing to annual reviews, EHCPs, recruiting support staff and transition arrangements. No face to face time with our students is hard. 

 

Positive is that schools and families have seen that we are contributing to work remotely and to support our children and families, producing work and videos alongside online learning platforms for schools.

 

Staying at home to work can be lonely and frustrating especially when technology doesn’t always work well or there is limited access to resources. 

 

It has shown how adaptable and creative we are; finding new ways of working and supporting. Families have really appreciated the email/phone/text support and resources we are making and sending out. Continued flexibility from employers as many ToDs are carers/home schooling children at the same time as continuing to work. 

 

I have formed much closer relationships with families over this period which has been positive. Mainstream settings have appreciated input and support from us as they seek to support the families for deaf CYP. Joint working with other professionals has been strengthened as we all work together for positive outcomes. 

 

Personally I think it has made me a better practitioner by adapting and adjusting to the challenges I've learnt a lot about myself and built up a stronger relationship with parents and professionals. 

 

 

  1. Issue raised relevant to post-16 phases including Further and higher education

 

 

 

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

This has actually improved, as rather than set work for Year 11 students we 

have put them in contact with their Post-16 education placements, which are providing pre-entry work.

 

  1. We asked BATOD members about the impact of the closures on families of deaf children and young people.

 

The impact in some cases had been exacerbated by the suddenness of closure – no preparation for the children 

 

Some responses to the fact that parents are forced into the role of teachers

 

 

Isolation  leading to increase in mental health issues as mentioned above

 

      perhaps restricted access to effective communication skills, BSL etc 

 

Access 

 

     can meet access needs of their children 

     needs/EAL 

 

Audiological equipment/medical support 

 

      maintained 

  

 

What ToDs have done and will do to address these issues: 

 

      services/voluntary sector/social media groups 

      voluntary services    

      resources 

      access to learning 

 

  1. BATOD members were asked about the effect of the closures and the virus on the access of deaf children and young people to health and social care services:

 

 There have been delays with

 

 

What ToDs have been doing and will do

 

 

 

Other issues

 

           services 

           social care

           appointments eg opaque masks 

           has been difficult supporting new baby referrals and establishing

           that relationship from a distance  

           due to language and communication needs

 

Quotations from members’ responses: 

 

Funding and austerity have not been useful in terms of social care provision – there is lack of understanding of the needs of deaf CYP, higher thresholds for intervention and removal of support for families have unknown negative impact especially for those with complex needs.

 

Access to services reduced all understandable when services are having to be prioritised and staff and patient safety considered. Good communication remains, enabling confidence in services to continue. 

 

The impact will only be clearly visible when the children return to school. Some will have longer lasting scars while others will fall back into school happily without any obvious issues.

 

  1. Recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Conclusion

 

This document itemises a number of complex issues and recommendations arising from the closure of schools and the impact of the coronavirus on the education of deaf children and young people. BATOD is very happy to clarify any of the points raised either through oral submission or in writing.

 

Paul Simpson and Teresa Quail, National Executive Officers on behalf of the BATOD Steering Group and wider membership.

 

June 2020