HC Deb 11 April 1946 vol 421 cc2067-8
8. Mr. Battley

asked the Minister of Education the total number of special schools for the education of deaf children in the country and in the county of London; whether she is satisfied that the number is sufficient and that these schools are adequately staffed and equipped with hearing and other appliances; what advice is given to parents in early examinations of the children regarding speech training; and whether the number of deaf children is increasing in the country.

Miss Wilkinson

There are 43 special schools for the deaf with accommodation for 4,230 children in England and Wales, including four schools in London with accommodation for 246 children. I here is some shortage of provision, particularly for young deaf children, in the south of England, and in deaf schools as in ordinary schools more teachers are needed. Steps are being taken to remedy both these deficiencies. Before the war the provision of hearing aids in these schools was proceeding rapidly, but this development was stopped by evacuation and difficulties of supply and maintenance during the war. Suitable apparatus is, at the moment, virtually unobtainable but a committee of the Medical Research Council is investigating the whole problem.

It is the practice of school medical officers and teachers to explain to parents the importance of giving a deaf child speech training from an early age. I have no definite evidence of an increase in the incidence of deafness among children, but I am glad to say that there appears to be a growing appreciation among parents of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and a consequent increase in the demand for special school education for the younger deaf children.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Are children ever refused admission to schools for the deaf because they are slightly below the normal mental level, and is provision made for children who appear not to be up to the normal level?

Miss Wilkinson

They are not refused on account of any slight deficiency or backwardness, because that might be due to deafness.

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