National Deaf Children’s Society

Deaf Children with EAL

Project Aim

To identify good practice in supporting deaf children with English as an Additional Language and to produce practical resources and guidance for specialist and mainstream education professionals on how to provide quality support for deaf children with EAL to develop communication and language skills.

Project Objectives

  • Specialist and mainstream education professionals will have improved confidence and ability to support deaf children with EAL to develop their communication and language skills
  • Specialist education support services will be better able to share best practice with mainstream education professionals with deaf children with EAL in their care
  • Mainstream education professionals will have greater understanding of the issues surrounding childhood deafness and EAL where to turn for support and information to improve their ability to teach deaf children who speak EAL

Project Partners

  • The National Deaf Children’s Society is the leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and their families.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society helps deaf children and young people thrive by providing impartial, practical and emotional support to them and their families, and by challenging governments and society to meet their needs.

About the Project

Effective language and communication skills lie at the heart of deaf children’s social, emotional and intellectual development. Deafness is not a learning disability and there is no reason why deaf children should not be performing as well as other children.

However, 58.9% of deaf children are failing to achieve the government’s expected benchmark of five GCSEs at grade A* - C, including English and Mathematics, compared to just 35.8% of other children with no identified special educational need (Department for Education data 2016). Research suggests that approximately 78% of deaf children attend mainstream schools where there is no specialist provision and in which they may be the only deaf child enrolled. Hearing aids, cochlear implants and other technologies do not replace normal hearing, and deaf children require additional specialist support. Even a mild hearing loss can have a major impact on deaf children’s outcomes.

According to the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) (when the project was undertaken), there are over 5,500 children who are both deaf and speak English as an Additional Language (EAL). This amounts to around 12% of all deaf children. The actual figure is likely to be higher given we know that some local authorities are limited in the data they hold about deaf children.

Department for Education (DfE) 2015 data showed that deaf children who speak EAL are even less likely to achieve 5 good GCSEs:

  • Children who are deaf and EAL - 31.4%
  • Children who are deaf and not EAL - 43.3%
  • All deaf children - 41.1%
  • EAL children - 56.5%
  • Children who are not EAL - 57.5%
  • All children - 57.1%

It is critical that all deaf children, parents and mainstream teachers receive specialist support to overcome the challenges in developing communication and language skills.

The project also developed, produced, trialled and evaluated resources. As a result, specialist and mainstream education professionals will be better able to support the deaf children with EAL who come into their care in overcoming the challenges in developing their communication and language skills.

Research and university partners