I believe it is vital that deaf children receive high quality support in order to realise their full potential. I am therefore very concerned by reports of a fall in the number of teachers of deaf children.
At the recent general election I stood on a Labour manifesto which committed to give everyone the opportunity to access education throughout their lives, and to deliver a strategy for children based on inclusivity, firmly embedding Special Educational Needs and Disabilities into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, and all children and their parents are properly supported.
I understand the concerns that have been raised about the treatment of deaf young people during assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). I have long believed that the PIP assessments system is unfair and should be replaced with a personalised, holistic assessment process that provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing any barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices.
I hope the concerns that have been raised by the National Deaf Children's Society in relation to PIP and deaf young people will be carefully considered by the current Government.
I am fully committed to supporting deaf children to live full and independent lives and to fighting discrimination and promoting true equality for deaf people and their families.
I will continue to press for improved services and provision for both deaf children and adults in Ilford and across the country.