Types of educational placements for deaf children

Different types of placement for deaf children of mainstream education

Mainstream education or special Deaf school? – this is the question for some parents of deaf children. Others are not offered a choice of these placements as professionals consider that many deaf children can “cope” in hearing schools.

There are several choices:

Deaf school 

Most Deaf schools are BSL medium schools with only four that are English medium (or oral). For Deaf parents with profoundly deaf children, this can be the option they prefer due to having been to Deaf school themselves. Some parents opt for Deaf schools as they want a Deaf cultural and linguistic experience for their deaf child. Also deaf children with additional needs are often placed in Deaf schools. Deaf schools can be day or residential.


  • Resourced mainstream school is where there are other deaf children (though there may only be one or two per Year group) and there are specialist staff and equipment. The Resourced school may teach BSL and/or provide the curriculum in BSL. Some Resourced schools only teach in English and do not teach BSL. Usually only profoundly deaf children may be offered this placement, though this is not automatic.
  • Local, or chosen,  provider mainstream school is where most deaf children are placed, and they are likely to be the only deaf child in the school, or if there are coincidentally more, usually no effort is made to support their learning or breaktimes together. The level of aid from the Support Service provided to deaf children in local mainstream schools differs significantly from one local authority to another, and from one deaf child to another. Support can range from no contact or advice to the school whatsoever, to weekly tuition from a Teacher of Deaf children, or even full time Communication Support Worker/ Teacher of Deaf
  • Some deaf children attend a set number of hours’ tuition at Deaf schools or Resourced schools, whilst attending their local, or chosen, non-resourced mainstream school.
  • Some deaf children attend private education, which functions like a non-resourced school, without support from the local authority Support Service.

Effects of non-resourced mainstream education

61% of deaf mainstreamed children in theUK have mental health problems, which can continue into adult life.. (Dr Peter Hindley et al, Psychiatrist to deaf children).

He states: “….communication within the family, particularly conversations about what people are thinking and feeling, are crucial drivers for two key areas of development. Children’s awareness of other people’s thoughts, so called meta-cognition, appears to develop through the experience of talking to other people about other people’s thoughts. Many deaf children miss out on these kinds of conversation. Either their parents do not have sufficient effective language to have these conversations with them or parents are more concerned with ensuring their deaf child gets the basic facts. Equally, children’s understanding of their own and other people’s emotions develops through conversational experience. Again, many parents either lack the language to have these conversations or feel other areas of language development are more important.

In the absence of this kind of experience, deaf children are vulnerable to delays in meta-cognition and in emotional functioning which make them vulnerable to emotional and behavioural problems in later life. These delays can be further compounded because deaf children have greater difficulty in accessing the incidental learning with same-age peers, older children and adults which underpins continuing social and emotional development.

Finally, having effective peer relationships and developing a positive deaf identity are crucial to healthy development. Children in mainstream settings may have very limited contact with other deaf children and with deaf adults. Opportunities for informal social contacts with deaf peers are essential in providing access to peers who share similar experiences and offer a positive model for their lives as adults,” (article for the British Association of Teachers of Deaf).

Training courses

DEX provides a variety of bespoke training courses, an example of which is the Parents’ Deaf Equality training Programme. DEX has a track record of involving families in learning BSL and in bringing up a deaf child.

In order to establish a curriculum, we set up a pilot workshop based on our previous successful parents’ courses, including the Deaf  trainer we commissioned. Feedback from parents on the course was extremely high and provided DEX with further evidence that there is a clear need for Deaf professionals to train parents, and what the courses should include.

DEX provides Parents’ Deaf Equality training programmes in Local Authorities. DEX also provides training the trainer courses for staff to run in-house parents’ courses.

As a parent of a deaf child you can ask your Children’s Services for an assessment for the Personalisation budget, and for funding to pay for BSL tuition.  If you are a parent or service provider, and would like more information, please contact us on  info@dex.org.uk


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