Memorandum from RNID (EY 72)
I am writing in connection with the Education
Sub-committee's current inquiry into early years education provision.
RNID's primary concern in the early years field
is the need for greater support for family services for deaf children
from birth to two years old. For deaf children, this is absolutely
crucial, as it informs literally their life chances and impacts
directly on the five areas listed in the inquiry's terms of reference.
There are three key points that have a critical
bearing on optimum outcomes for deaf children in their early years
1. Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening
and continuing support from birth to age twoEarly confirmation
of deafness through Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening (UNHS)
and high quality services for both deaf children from birth to
age two and their families are very important. Following discussions
with Ministers and officials, RNID is hopeful that an announcement
on the introduction of UNHS across the NHS will be made soon.
If supplemented by high quality support for children and their
families, the chances for children to thrive in Foundation Stage
and develop with age-appropriate language and communication will
improve significantly. Conversely, the current absence of UNHS
is a major barrier to deaf children's early years education as
well as to their life chances as a whole.
2. Inclusion dependent on adequate supportAttention
needs to be given to the provision and funding of adequate support
for deaf children in inclusive settings. For deaf children with
significant and permanent levels of deafness, this means regular
support from a qualified teacher of the deaf and/or learning support/assistant.
RNID and other deaf charities and organisations are concerned
about the level of funding for, and numbers of teachers undertaking,
mandatory courses for training as teachers of the deaf. It is
also concerned that the special educational needs of deaf children
under the age of two are being overlooked by Local Education Authorities,
issues raised in two recent PQs, a copy of which I enclose.
3. Promoting the development of language
and communication to age three. A flexible approach is the third
strand of getting it right from the start, along with UNHS and
high quality continuing support for deaf children, from birth
to age two, and their families. Deaf children considered as a
group are likely to arrive at placement at age three with delayed
receptive understanding of language and delayed expressive use
of language. A more structured curriculum at this stage is likely
to present difficulties for children for whom the priority is
high quality conversational experiences in the context of free
play/activities to promote the development of language and communication.
These represent three key opportunities to lay
firm foundations for early years education as early as possible,
if excellence for all is to include deaf children. We would be
delighted if the Sub-committee were able to consider and raise
these often overlooked and marginalised issues with Ministers
and in its report.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can ever provide information
or give evidence for this or other inquiries.
Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)
HOUSE OF COMMONS WRITTEN ANSWERS
COL 386 DISABILITY
Mr Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for
Education and Employment what response he has made to the Audit
Commission's report. "Fully Equipped", on the provision
of disability equipment and services. 
Ms Hodge: I welcome the contribution to improving
services for disabled people of the Audit Commission's report
"Fully Equipped", which was addressed to the Department
The hon Gentleman may wish to refer to the response
given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend
the member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr McCabe) on 29 March
2000, Official Report, column 336, regarding the Government's
intentions following publication of this report.
COL 387 YOUNG
Mr Boswell: to ask the Secretary of State for
Education and Employment if he will make a statement about the
current responsibilities of his Department towards supporting
the language and educational development of children under two
years of age with a recognised hearing loss. 
Jacqui Smith: It is for local education authorities
to make educational provision for children of statutory school
age, and those over the age of two with a statement of special
educational needs, including those with a hearing-impairment.
Where appropriate, local educational authorities may also make
special educational provision for children under two years of
COL 387 TEACHERS
Mr Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for
Education and Employment (1) how many teachers enrolled on mandatory
courses leading to a qualification as a teacher of the deaf in
each of the last five years;  (2) how many teachers undertook
a mandatory course to train as a teacher of the deaf on a self-funding
basis in each of the past five years. 
Jacqui Smith: The Department does not collect