October 12, 2022 2.30 pm This story is over 18 months old

Lincoln mum says deaf children can succeed with the right support

She is worried what will happen if the support is ever taken away

A Lincoln mum says the right support can make the world of difference to deaf children, seeing first-hand the development of her seven-year-old son Marshall – but she is worried about consequences if that support is ever taken away.

Herminia Greaves said Marshall was born partially deaf in both ears and failed his new-born hearing test. Although he can hear most things, quiet sounds can be difficult to pick up, like ‘s’ for example, as can focusing in noisy situations whilst there is too much else going on in the background.

Marshall’s mum wanted to highlight just how good the support is that he has received since attending Saint Lawrence CE Primary School in Skellingthorpe.

She said told The Lincolnite that the school’s staff are brilliant and deaf aware and also use a radio microphone, known as Roger, which connects directly to Marshall’s hearing aid.

As well as the great support given by the school, he also has access to a Teacher of the Deaf who came in to train staff and give them advice, as well as having one-on-one sessions with Marshall and after initial regular meetings she now sees him every few months.

Teachers of the Deaf are qualified teachers who have taken further training to teach children with a hearing loss.

Marshall does extra activities at home to help with repetition of learning.

Herminia said: “It (specialist support) has been the difference for him reaching his full potential. Because he has to work so much harder to concentrate, if adjustments weren’t made to his environment, I think he would have started to fall behind.

“The school have always been so good and accommodating. This school has been very open and willing and asking me what would be helpful.

“Marshall socially struggled to make friends and couldn’t get involved in all the different conversations going on. The Teacher of the Deaf helped with this so that the staff could help him socialise with other children, he learnt to have one friend, to then two and more.”

Herminia is very grateful for the benefits the specialist support has given her son and believes it has been crucial to his development. She is unsure how he would manage if the support was ever taken away.

The Greaves family – parents Herminia and Stewart with their children, Freddie, Marshall, and Luis.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is campaigning for more specialist support in schools for deaf children and young people, which the Greaves family among those supporting it.

The charity surveyed 5,700 primary and secondary school teachers across England, including 1,036 from the Midlands. The results released this week show that just one in 20 teachers in the Midlands believe no changes are needed to the current system for deaf children to reach their full potential.

Six in 10 said that deaf children will continue to underachieve at school without changes to the current system.

The charity is calling on the government to invest in more specialist staff to support deaf students and prevent them falling behind at school.

Marshall’s school awarded him with the Pride Cup for his “fantastic learning attitude”.

Marshall is a ‘super star’.

It also believes deaf young people are being consistently failed by the education system. The Department for Education is currently reviewing how disabled children are support in schools as part of its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review.

The charity is urging the government to use this opportunity to develop a plan to provide effective, long-term specialist support. It wants to see investment in more Teachers of the Deaf, whose numbers it says have been slashed by 17% in a decade.

Marshall, 7, with. his brothers Freddie, 9, and Luis, 5.

Herminia added: “With deafness, a lot of speech you pick up informally from what is going on around you but he doesn’t have access to that as he has to focus on what being said to him.

“It’s the little things like a lot of sounds are quiet and when he started to learn to read and write he couldn’t hear some of the quieter sounds in phonics like ’s’ .

“My worry has always been because Marshall does so well he might eventually be one of those kids who is signed off from support that he needs. I always worry that they’re (government) going to say he doesn’t meet the criteria and the support will stop, but I really hope we can keep it.

“I just feel like, when you’re in a good position, you think that other children might not be getting the support, it’s a postcode lottery. I wanted to share Marshall’s story so if others recognise they’re not getting the support, they can look into it. Deaf children can stay in mainstream school and do well, the support just needs to be there, as it has been crucial for Marshall.”

Marshall (right) spending quality time with his older brother Freddie (left).

Marshall loves spending time with his brothers Freddie, nine, and Luis, five. He is meeting all of his targets at school and does extra activities at home to help with repetition of learning.

However, some physical activities like football or tennis are harder for him, and the deafness can effect his balance so it took him longer to learn how to swim and ride a bike.

His mum said: “Marshall is very positive about it. Sometimes he’ll ask if he’s unique and starts to question if something is wrong with him, but he also thinks it’s like having a superpower and embraces it.”