Barbara Keeley MP


Barbara backs proposals to improve understanding of Special Educational Needs

225Barbara Keeley MP is backing a bill which will mean that better information will be collected on pupils with Special Education Needs (SEN).

This will help local and national Government to understand more fully what is needed to help the pupils learn. Fellow Labour MP, Sharon Hodgson, has introduced the Private Members Bill to Parliament . Sharon Hodgson opened a debate in the Commons by outlining why the collection of this information would help pupils with SEN. When Barbara spoke in the debate, she concentrated on the achievement gap between deaf and hearing pupils.

Barbara said:

“In March 2007… [the] Minister in the Department for Education and Skills stated in a Westminster Hall debate that only 32.9% of deaf children in England achieved five or more A to C grades at GCSE, compared with the then national average of 57%. That is an attainment gap of 24%. Given that deafness is not a learning disability there is no reason why deaf children should achieve less than their hearing peers of similar cognitive ability. That gap is not acceptable to me.

"Those statistics demonstrate the importance of the Bill, because they were the only statistics my office could find on the educational attainment of deaf children. If we do not know that the gaps exist, how can we take appropriate action to close them? I welcome the duty to collect and publish information about children with SEN that the Bill would place on the Secretary of State.”

Barbara also praised both the Thomasson Memorial School for the Deaf in Bolton, which serves a number of deaf children in Worsley, and St George’s Catholic High School in Walkden, which has an excellent record in providing for children with SEN.

Speaking of the bill, Barbara said:

“My Honourable Friend has shone a spotlight on unnecessary underachievement, and I commend her for it. I support her Bill because its measures will help to ensure that every child has an equal chance of success. We cannot continue with a 24% attainment gap between deaf children and hearing pupils and the massive waste of potential that goes with it. My Honourable Friend's Bill will be an important step towards closing that gap.”

The bill was given a Second Reading and its provisions will now be considered in detail in committee.

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