Achievement and opportunities for deaf students

The project examined the achievements of deaf pupils in the UK, focusing on Scotland in order to make use of a longitudinal database which has detailed information about every deaf pupil from 2000 – 2005. Researchers followed the progress of pupils in the database in several different ways, including by sending questionnaires to deaf young people who had left school, and close collaboration with teachers of deaf children.  

Main findings
  • Because children with only mild hearing have better speech skills than profoundly deaf students, serious learning issues can be overlooked.
  • Students with mild and moderate deafness received only 1.6 and 2.6 hours of support each week respectively, compared with 17.2 hours for profoundly deaf students. 
  • Pupils with any degree of deafness were below the average academic score for the general population (173), particularly in examinations for English.
  • The difference in scores between pupils aged 16 with mild deafness (144) and profound deafness (128) was minimal.
  • The majority of 16-28 year-olds preferred to use English speech to communicate (75 per cent), while only 15 per cent preferred to communicate with British Sign Language and nine per cent with English based signing. This was potentially due to the lack of availability of sign language in mainstream schools, where the majority (85 per cent) of deaf pupils are educated.
  • Teachers did not always inform parents about their child’s poor literacy skills and neither did they always have high expectations for deaf pupils, researchers found. Schools were also unsure when engaging with parents from poorer backgrounds.
Project details



Dr Rowena ArshadProfessor Marc Marschark, Rachel O’Neill, University of Edinburgh

Grant amount and duration

1 January 2010 - 31 August 2014



Achievement and Opportunities for Deaf Students in the United Kingdom: From Research to Practice

Full report (PDF)

Summary report (PDF)