Thank you for contacting me about support for deaf children and young people.
I share your belief that deaf children and young people should have equal access to information, and I am pleased that measures are in place to support them in educational settings.
First, I am pleased that the Whole School Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Consortium have been awarded a contract to embed SEND within approaches to school improvement and to equip the school workforce to deliver high quality teaching for all pupils with SEND. The programme of work will include the involvement of 15,000 schools by 2022, across the 8 Regional School Commissioner regions.
Further, it is welcome that High Needs Funding was boosted by £780 million in 2020-21 to £7.2 billion, and that a further £730 million is being provided in 2021-22. Additionally, over £42 million was announced to re-award contracts and grants which enable schools, colleges, families and local authorities to support thousands of children with SEND. The funding will help to provide equipment, goods or services for low-income families raising children with serious disabilities and illnesses.
In addition, I am pleased that £280 million is being invested to support local authorities to create new places and improve existing provision for pupils with SEND or who require alternative provision (AP). This funding will help ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a world-class education, whatever their background.
More widely, it is important that communication is more accessible to those pupils who have hearing impairments. To this end, I welcome that schools can choose to offer sign language in their curriculum or include it as part of their extra-curricular activities programme. This includes offering existing British Sign Language qualifications. I understand that the Department for Education is also working with subject experts and Ofqual on introducing a British Sign Language GCSE.
I can assure you that I will follow the upcoming SEND Review closely to ensure that there continues to be high quality educational support in place for deaf children.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.