Visit as many schools as possible; ask the peripatetic teacher to accompany you if you think this would be helpful

Your local education authority will put you in touch with a Peripatetic Teacher of the Deaf (or a similar title) at an early stage. Make a good friend of this person; they will be hugely important to your child as they move into primary education.

This person should be in touch with you very soon after your child’s hearing loss has been identified. Their role includes helping you identify a suitable nursery and school, acting as a contact point between the school and the education authority, arranging training of school staff, arranging provision of any equipment needed, and so much more. Ask questions of them and keep them “on your side”.

Think about the acoustics of the classrooms as well as the communal areas, corridors, halls, etc. Are carpets fitted or do floors have hard coverings? Check all the classrooms; remember you want your child to stay at the same school for the next 7 years so more than one room needs to be suitable for them.

Think also about the lighting in the rooms. A deaf person needs to be able to see clearly the face of anyone who is speaking to them. Lip reading and other visual clues are essential for understanding spoken and non verbal communication.

Has the school any previous experience with deaf children? Are they “deaf aware” or will they need training before your child joins the school? Remember that all staff will need to be “deaf aware”, not only the specific class teacher; this includes any lunch staff and volunteers who may help out in school.

Who will support your child in checking hearing aids, using a radio aid and generally ensuring that they can fully access all sessions? There will need to be an appointed person to help your child with this. Trust your instinct; if you have any unease about how your child would be supported, look at other schools.

Ask if there are any children at the school with additional needs (not only deaf kids) and try to speak to the family about their experience of a particular school; this can often provide useful background information to help you make the right choice.

Case Study