A new government contract that will improve access and attainment for deaf pupils was unveiled during the annual conference of leading awarding body Signature recently.
Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister, announced the new contract, which will help develop the support available for children who use sign language, during his keynote speech at the Challenges And Choices In Education conference.
The contract will complement the Department for Education’s existing National Prospectus Grants Programme and will expand the Government’s national approach to helping deaf children, and those with other sensory impairments, by providing sector-led support to ensure effective sensory support services are available to every school.
The announcement has been welcomed by Signature, the UK’s leading provider of accredited qualifications in sign language and other forms of deaf communication and hosts of the conference.
Jim Edwards, Chief Executive of Signature, said: “The announcement of the Government’s growing commitment to offer enhanced support to those with a sensory impairment is fantastic news. This new contract will help generate comprehensive support for deaf children in education, and will greatly contribute in our battle to eradicate the attainment gap between deaf learners and their hearing peers.
“Signature is dedicated to creating a society in which deaf and deafblind people are able to enjoy full access, so it was a real honour for this to be unveiled during our 30th anniversary conference.”
Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister, said: “Signature does inspiring work in helping young deaf people achieve their potential. We support this work and parents of deaf children will benefit from our reforms of special educational needs provision, which will make services more joined-up. The system will fit with the needs of deaf children and their families, rather than the other way around.
“In the meantime, groups which support deaf children can now apply to our new grant programme for the voluntary and community sector to help children and families. One of its priorities is to develop and reform services for children with special educational needs, disabilities and other health issues.
“We will soon issue a new contract to provide a national advice and support service for sensory impairments, including support for children using sign language.”
Chaired by The Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce MP and Brian Lamb OBE, the Challenges And Choices In Education conference focused on the needs of deaf learners in the education system and their transition into the workplace. It challenged many of the assumptions made about deaf learners and offered practical guidance and best practice that will help every learner to achieve their aspirations.
Other speakers at the conference included:
- Professor Sonia Blandford, Achievement for All
- Yolande Burgess, London Councils: Young People’s Education and Skills
- David Couch, East Sussex County Council and SE7 Pathfinder
- Huw Davies, British Association for Supported Employment
- Anne Duffy, HMI OFSTED
- Jonathan Farnhill, Exeter Academy
- Genevieve Isherwood, Squire Sanders (UK) LLP
- Markku Jokinen, Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD)
- Andy Owen, Association of Communication Support Workers
- Lindsey Rousseau, National Sensory Impairment Partnership
- Karen Taylor, BATOD
- David Wolfe, Matrix Chambers
- Professor Bernice Woll, University of London
Signature promotes excellence in communication with deaf and deafblind people. Find out more about the charity’s work at www.signature.org.uk
Left to right: Sir Malcolm Bruce MP with Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister, and Jim Edwards, Chief Executive of Signature.