Deaf pupils at Nottinghamshire primary school celebrate amazing achievement despite ‘big challenges’

Posted: 10th August 2023

Teachers at Mellers Primary School in Radford have been blown away by the performance of two deaf pupils in their SATs exams. For many year six pupils across the UK, end-of-year SATs exams can be quite a challenge, but for deaf pupils Kian Jenkins and Yin Xi Zhao they have faced a number of barriers but still enjoyed huge success.

The two 11-year-old students are a part of the Mellers Primary School Focus Provision for Deaf Pupils. In September 2021 teachers who are part of the Focus Provision moved to the Mellers Primary School in Radford and have made a huge difference to the school – with staff and other children learning BSL (British Sign Language).

The Focus Provision allows deaf children to be taught in a way that better meets their learning needs. They are not taught in a mainstream class and have recently moved into a new area attached to the school, which is designed and purpose-built to meet the needs of deaf children.

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As staff at the school explained, deafness itself isn’t a learning disability, but when not supported appropriately it can significantly impact their education. Described as “quiet and timid” both Kian and Yin Xi, who are profoundly deaf, have progressed so much and become “chatty and confident young people”.

“It represents a really big achievement in deaf education for these kids to have come through and done so well in a mainstream test. We are really impressed with how they’ve come on and how much progress they have made,” said Angela Knowles, co-lead of the Focus Provision, who oversees KS2.

“I think that one of the things that I oversee at Mellors is that we are able to identify what their needs are in relation to their deafness, then plan work and plan interventions and development so that they can make progress.” For both pupils of the Mellers School, they have ‘achieved the expected standard’ in maths which is a significant result.

She added: “We feel really fortunate that we are in a position where we can absolutely meet their needs. It feels that we get to know the children really well and what impact deafness has had on them and we’re able to respond to it appropriately. And when you do that look what happens – they’re able to achieve and attain like their hearing peers.”

Louise Burrows, who is co-lead of the Focus Provision, has been at the Mellers School since 2021. She shared how far the children have progressed. “They were both quiet timid children”, she said. “There was one point where Yin Xi wouldn’t communicate at all but they’re both so chatty now and confident young people.

“They’ve gone from having no confidence and not having the language to communicate, to being able to communicate with us because obviously, we use BSL as well as speech. They’re two lovely characters.”

Louise continued: “Our children are all deaf so there’s that language barrier, they obviously won’t hear everything the same as hearing children, communication wise the children who come to the Focus Provision have at least two years delay in their language and understanding.

“They’re two really dedicated children that have really, really tried hard and put all the effort in that’s needed.”

Executive Headteacher Amanda Dawson said: “Mellers overall results at Key Stage 2 are above national expectations in reading and maths. This is excellent in an area with social and economic difficulties like Radford. So with our two pupils and the overall results, Mellers is very proud to be levelling the playing field for many disadvantaged children.”

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