Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, gives an update on the future of the Hearing Impaired Unit at Emmbrook Infant and Junior Schools.
“I understand why some people are upset about our proposed plans for the Hearing Impaired (HI) Unit at Emmbrook Infant School and Emmbrook Junior School, but we want to make sure they have all the facts.
“The number of HI pupils being referred there has been falling steadily, and for this September there were only four pupils for a unit designed for eight (with two specialist teachers).
“Knowing that one of these two teachers was due to retire this summer, we’d been talking to the schools about a phased closure of the unit which would have supported the current pupils in the way they’re used to until they moved to secondary.
“We were about to start a consultation on those plans when the remaining teacher resigned. We have widely advertised the vacancy, looked to see if there are HI teachers in our local special schools, and have asked the Berkshire Sensory Consortium to assist. Teachers in this field are very rare, but we have now had some interest in the position so everything possible is being done to recruit in time for autumn to staff the unit for our existing pupils.
“We are working with parents and have brought forward the annual reviews for the four pupils who were due to stay at the unit, so should the vacancy not be filled we know for our planning exactly what they need.
“Modern medical science and the ability of mainstream schools to support HI pupils means only a minority now need to go to special units. HI pupils now enjoy and excel in mainstream schools alongside their hearing friends.”
Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services.