There’s a worrying domino effect impacting deaf young people’s education – it must be stopped | Liam O’Dell

As MPs debate deaf children’s services in Parliament later today, it’s time to introduce more equality into our education system and address this problem at its core.

A series of continuous barriers in education are preventing deaf young people from achieving their full potential. Without the right support, these issues can only worsen as the individual progresses through the system.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has done some incredible work in establishing the issues present throughout a deaf young person’s journey through the education system. Their research has revealed that councils in England are planning £4 million worth of cuts to services for disabled children and young people; that just nine per cent of deaf young people attended a Russell Group university in the 2015/16 academic year (compared to 17% of all students) and now, that over half of deaf students in England in 2017 failed to achieve more than one A-Level before reading 19 years of age. The exact figure, 58.8%, is the highest rate since 2012, The Independent reports.

All of this points to a wider domino effect at play in our education system which sets deaf young people down a path where they are unable to achieve the results of which they are capable. The cuts to deaf services mean that deaf pupils are not as supported by Teachers of the Deaf and other professionals as they should be.

As such, these individuals fail to receive full access to an education in the classroom, which could explain why we’re currently seeing a rise in the number of deaf young people failing to achieve more than one A-Level. This then impacts their chances of entering Russell Group universities. It shouldn’t be allowed to snowball like this.

While all this unfolds, the Government is making slow progress on introducing a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) – a qualification which would not only help to break down communication barriers between deaf pupils, their peers and their tutors, but also greatly improve their access to education.

Education is as much about support networks as it is learning. These cuts should not only be stopped, but more work must be done to establish connections between parents, students and teachers.

Having on individual who can understand a child’s needs in an educational environment can help a lot with navigating through education. At present, the cuts to deaf services are so significant that while I received support from a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, not every deaf child is so lucky.

With so many barriers facing deaf children in education, it can feel isolating and confusing. Transitions between school can only exacerbate the obstacles if strong communication networks are established. We must not only challenge the damaging cuts proposed, but work to improve connections so deaf children are supported as much as possible.

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Weekly Update: Returning to University

After a nice Christmas and New Year break, I returned to Lincoln this week to start my second term/semester at university.

Whilst I’ve only been back a week, I can definitely say that university life has got even better. Despite having to take a break from shorthand over Christmas because of a law exam, I absolutely love learning the written language and am using it more everyday – it’s so useful!

As well as that, there’s a new part of the course called Public Administration for Journalists (basically, politics), which I am finding really interesting. I think after last year’s General Election – when I could vote for the first time – I was thrown into the deep end when it comes to understanding political parties. Since then, I’ve always dabbled in politics more – I went to the Conservative Party Conference to interview MPs, for example – because it’s certainly an interesting thing. We talk a lot about the monarchy, government and law in this module and I can’t wait to learn more.

Additionally, my radio show – which I co-host with my friend Danyal – is going great! I had a bit of coverage in the local press about it, I’m learning plenty of new things and the opportunities and skills it has provided me with has been incredible. I’m so thankful for it and can’t wait to do more radio work with Siren FM in 2016.

Speaking of music, I also saw Philip George this Friday. Although, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Save for a few remixes, Philip’s choices of tracks were all too similar. In terms of the support acts, the first DJ had a small crowd, whilst the second act had an annoying frontman (which, if you don’t know, are those people who hype up the crowd). I appreciate the need to get the crowd excited, but I just want to listen to the music!

But nevertheless, this week was awesome and it was a great start to another year education-wise.

How was your week? Comment below!

Liam

Thoughts on the Exam vs. Coursework Debate

Recently I’ve come to realise that my blog has lacked my “thoughts on” certain topics. So, in order to include this more often, I thought I would share my thoughts on the exams vs. coursework debate. After all, I had my first exam yesterday, and it is exam season.

Firstly, I’ll begin with my belief that exams – in most instances – only test memory, whilst coursework tests comprehension. I appreciate coursework can be longer, but with that you get the chance to improve through a constant re-draft process. With an exam, although it is only one instance, the procedure of spending weeks – if not, months – learning information again to pass exams isn’t really a good practice, is it? Surely we should value our ability to comprehend information (coursework), rather than recall information at will (exams)?

However, there are also examples where the pressures of an exam are appropriate – most likely for its ability to be confidential or unknown. The best two cases of this are so-called ‘unseen texts’ in the A-Level English Literature exams, and the ability to “write on demand” when it comes to Creative Writing. In those cases, the use of an exam is fair enough.

Lastly, with coursework, there is no pressure, which means you can focus more. Basically, the idea of coursework should be encouraged and used more often. Either coursework needs to replace exams completely, or exams as a method of testing needs a complete redesign.

What do you think? Which do you think is better: exams or coursework? Comment below!

Liam

This post is a bonus post after I forgot to write a post on Wednesday – sorry!

BREAKING NEWS: Liam finishes school life! | The Friday Article

In breaking news, lifestyle blogger Liam O’Dell, who blogs at The Life of a Thinker, has finished school and is preparing to start university in September.

Liam has been studying for his A-Level qualifications, and once he has completed the exams, he wil be free for the summer period.

“It’s a scary experience – the fact that my school life is over.” Liam said.

The blogger, who is also a crime writer, hopes to write and complete his first novel over the summer.

“Hopefully, with all that time on my hands, I should be able to get some work done.” he added.

Liam promises to update his blog followers on his progress.

Liam

Thoughts on Studying Books | Weekly Update

Apart from all the V Festival hype that happened last weekend (read here), I’ve also been busy with other things. In particular, I have had to start reading books for school which we’ll later go on to study as part of the A-Level course.

So today, I thought I would talk about my thoughts on studying books. Can books still be enjoyed when we analyse them in further detail?

There have been times where other schools I know have studied books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Enduring Love – both books being ones I really enjoyed reading and would really enjoy studying.

Nonetheless, the books I have studied for academic reasons can be interesting and enjoyable when it comes to analysing them. Analysing a book allows us to get a deeper understanding, and an insight that at first may have been overlooked…

However, at the same time, I feel as though there isn’t a right answer when it comes to analysing texts. Sure, there is a clear reading that is generic. But from that we can only assume that this sentence means this, or that this character is a symbol for this…

I think analysing a book in education allows for different interpretations, which is great. But at the same time, we have to remember that when analysing, there is often no correct answer…

What do you think about studying books? Comment below!

Liam

I am free from exams! (For a while…)

So as of yesterday, I sat two exams in a row before completing all of my exams at AS level! Yay!

Overall, I can say that went alright at least, with some better than others.

I’ll find out my results in August, but in the meantime, my study leave has ended. Therefore, I only have the weekend off before I go back to school. Then, I’ll start Year 13 and A2 qualifications.

So that’ll be exciting!

Liam

The Balance of Education

Throughout school, the path of education has been rather streamlined… GCSE’s, A-Levels, University/College (with Apprenticeships or jobs appearing at any stage).

For those new (hello!), I am currently at the A-Level stage, and the stage after that I’m still not 100% sure of.

However, there is this nice benefit I’ve noticed as I progress. The qualifications become more in depth, but fewer.

So over time I will become focussed on one subject that may become the one part of my job. At the moment, I’m hoping that’s journalism.

As much as some people may not like it, time does have set limits. But how we fill the space between them, is up to us.

But for me, it’s just easy for me when education follows this process of elimination as I progress through schools and university.

Liam