PARENTS are in uproar over plans to close Gwent's only specialist support centre for deaf children in the area.

Parents of deaf children at Cwmbran High School say they have been told by Torfaen Council that the support service known as the deaf base will be closed in May and absorbed into a centre for children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and other additional learning needs. 

However, they do not believe this move has been done in their children's best interests. 

Torfaen council say the information sent out to parents about the service contained inaccuracies and was unauthorised. The authority plan to reach out to parents and address concerns.

Lisa Hodge has claimed the school is "no longer inclusive” by taking away this support. 

She said: "The council claims the children will still get the same support in the new centre, but how can they? Putting a deaf child with a child who has autism is going to make life virtually impossible.”

Many of the other parents pointed out this particular issue, saying that for many deaf children, focusing on one sound in a noisy room is impossible, so to put them with an autistic child would be "irresponsible and showing a lack of awareness". 

South Wales Argus: Cwmbran High School is currently home to the only specialist centre for deaf children in GwentCwmbran High School is currently home to the only specialist centre for deaf children in Gwent (Image: Google)As part of the closure, staff who are currently trained in British Sign Language (BSL) are being allegedly "reallocated”.

Andrew and Kelly Longney, whose son Gethin relies on BSL, say the school is "going backwards" despite it already being in special measures.

Mr Longney said: "This base is everything to Gethin - if he loses it, he'll lose any form of support he needs to cope in education. 

"He wouldn't be able to cope in mainstream classes - he relies on one particular teacher who can communicate with him and has said he doesn’t want to go to school anymore if that teacher goes.”

Mrs Longney added: “At the moment, the children are thriving but that could change through no fault of their own. 

“We've had our children in tears over this because they don't understand why this is happening to them."

Sharon Davies said the move is a form of "mental torture", pointing out that all the children have statements, which entitle them to a certain level of trained support.

She said: "One minute, they have all this specialist support, and then it’s suddenly being removed. I think the council doesn't realise that not all deaf children can communicate by writing stuff down - some are still struggling or just can't. 

"Even if they could, why should they be forced to go back to communicating like that?”

South Wales Argus: The news has been described as mental torture by the parents for their childrenThe news has been described as mental torture by the parents for their children (Image: Newsquest)

According to the parents, this move is likely to cost the councils hundreds of pounds as try to support the students that are coming up and those who are still at the school and those who come to the school from further afield. 

Lisa Hodge fears she will have to send her daughter to a deaf centre in Bristol if the closure goes ahead, and this is something the others share.

Mr Longney said they feel they are being "forced out and forgotten" by everyone. "Our children simply cannot be supported by the staff they are proposing, and no one seems to recognise that.”

The parents claim they were not consulted about the closure and were informed it would be happening earlier this month in a letter.

Mr Longney added: "We've tried to set up meetings with the head Mr Sims, and while he has been sympathetic to an extent, he's said he doesn't know anything about it and has refused to respond to us since we had a meeting a few weeks ago." 

Torfaen Council’s Strategic Director for Children and Families, Jason O’Brien said: “I would like to sincerely apologise to the parents of the d/Deaf children at Cwmbran High School. The letter regarding plans for the d/Deaf provision, contained inaccuracies and was unauthorised.

“Despite a reduction in the number of deaf learners at Cwmbran High School, I wish to assure parents that the provision for these learners will remain unchanged, with staff numbers aligning with the number of learners from September 2024.”

The council are planning to arrange a meeting with parents in the coming weeks to address the concerns.

Cwmbran High School have been contacted for comment.