COUNTY-WIDE plans to reduce support for children with special educational needs and disabilities have been called “completely unacceptable” by a national charity.

Hampshire County Council has proposed changes to its Specialist Teacher Advisory Service, which provides support for children who have hearing or visual impairments, physical disabilities or speech, language and communication needs.

Currently in the consultation phase until March 9, the plans involve a reduction in visits for children with mild or moderate hearing loss from specialists, affecting around 900 children and resulting in the loss of several full-time staff.

This has now sparked the National Deaf Children’s Society to call on the council to re-think its plans.

However the authority says that “no decisions have yet been made”. If approved the council hopes the cuts will save it £708,000 a year.

Eva Jolly, from the charity, said: “Deaf children already face enough barriers in the classroom, the playground and their everyday lives. These proposals now risk causing more stress and uncertainty for more than a thousand deaf children and their parents.

“These children rely on the support they receive, but it now risks being torn up in a matter of months. Their support could be cut, their technology could go unfixed and their grades could begin to suffer even more.

“Hampshire County Council must act now to quash these proposals and show families across the region that it will deliver for deaf children and their families.

“Every child deserves the same chance in life and deaf children are no exception.”

The charity added that while visits for children with high levels of deafness would remain the same, the council has – through its own report – accepted that its proposals could lead to a rise in teacher caseloads and delays in addressing issues with equipment, such as hearing aids and radio aids.

It has warned that without fully functioning hearing equipment, deaf children will fall even further behind at school, meaning any delays in resolving issues could directly impact their education.

A county council spokesperson said: “While we understand the concerns of the National Deaf Children Society, it is important to emphasise that no decisions have yet been made. Furthermore, we can assure parents and children that if it is agreed that the proposals should be taken forward, appropriate support would continue to be provided for children who are deaf or whose hearing is impaired in any way.

“The consultation we are undertaking is part of a review of the Specialist Teacher Advisory Service. Our aim is to consider ways in which the service could operate more effectively to deliver the support needed for all children and young people with special needs and disabilities. The challenge is to do so within the limited resources available – which is why the feedback from the consultation is so to us.”

To take part in the consultation, visit: