Torbay Hearing Support Service provides specialist support and advice to families, schools and settings to meet the needs of children and young people with hearing impairment.

The Service is staffed by 3 part-time advisory teachers. These teachers are experienced teachers with an additional qualification in working with children and young people who have hearing difficulties.  They also have British Sign language skills to level 2 or 3. They have specialist knowledge of the audiological equipment that is used to help with hearing loss and classroom acoustics, as well as an understanding of the affects a hearing loss may have on learning and development.

Who does our Service support?

The Hearing Support Team provides support for any child who lives in Torbay and has a confirmed diagnosis of a hearing loss that requires use of a hearing aid. The staff work with these children regardless of whether or not they have an EHC (Education and Health Care) plan.

If a family lives in Torbay but the child attends an independent school or a school outside of the Local Authority, regular support from the Torbay Hearing Support Service cannot be accessed. The exception to this is if a child is in an independent school and has an EHCP for hearing loss.  In this case continued support may be made to the child for the specialist support that the school cannot offer.

At Pre-school level
An advisory teacher will phone or email and arrange a visit to the home.

At School level
Advisory teachers only work directly with children and young people with written permission from a parent/carer.  Once permission has been gained the advisory teacher will arrange a time to see the child or young person in school and meet with the child or young person’s teacher. Parents are welcome to attend this meeting if they would like to.

Following the visit a report will be written in which there will be advice for management of the hearing loss within the school setting and a recommendation for the next visit and the frequency of subsequent visits. Input from the Hearing Support Team will vary depending on the need of the child at the time.  The frequency with which individual pupils are visited is determined by a nationally accepted eligibility criteria.

The advisory teachers work closely with audiologists and ENT consultants at Torbay Hospital, parents, teachers and staff in early years settings.

Advisory teachers offer advice and guidance on a range of issues appropriate to a child or young person’s age and needs. This information may cover

  • Audiological issues
  • Hearing aids
  • Ideas for play
  • Information on pre-school and school provision
  • Hearing strategies
  • Communication and language development
  • Cognition (how they experience the world and learn)
  • Support and liaison with other professionals

From the point of diagnosis of a hearing loss, parents/carers are offered a visit from the advisory teachers to the home.  The frequency of these visits will be determined through discussion with the parents.

Visits to the home will cover a wide variety of activities such as

  • Working together to promote language development
  • Monitoring language development
  • Helping parents make informed choices about communication options
  • Helping parents develop basic signing skills where appropriate
  • Signposting parents to events/ courses that may be of interest
  • Helping with benefits claims such as disability living allowance (DLA)
  • Linking families with other families with hearing impaired children
  • Helping parents in their choice of pre-school/ school placements
  • Supporting families through the process of statutory assessment where applicable

In addition to this advisory teachers may attend audiology appointments with families, provide training for pre-school settings and childminders, and support

transition into pre-school/school.

Advisory teachers work closely with SENCOs in schools and provide training for staff on deaf awareness and use of equipment. They also give advice on ways to improve a hearing impaired child’s access to the curriculum.  They may do some direct teaching with individual pupils. This could be for a focussed period of time or on a weekly basis, depending on need.

The Hearing Support Team will loan out devices such as ALDs (assistive listening devices) and soundfield systems, if it is felt, through assessment, that a child would benefit from this equipment.

We provide support for schools/pre-school settings in the use and maintenance of personal hearing aids and Cochlear Implants.

Many of the children and young people with hearing loss within Torbay attend their local school where they are supported by an advisory teacher. The advisory teachers work within geographical areas and cover all Local Authority schools within Torbay.

For some children and young people with severe and profound hearing losses and occasionally children with moderate hearing losses, the levels of support schools are able to provide may not be considered adequate to support a child’s needs. If this is the case the child may be able to access an enhanced provision.

An enhanced provision is a mainstream school that employs additional staff with specialist qualifications and skills to work with hearing impaired pupils. This is usually a teacher with a specialist qualification for teaching children with hearing impairments aswell as specialist teaching assistants.  The staff at the enhanced provisions have a sound knowledge of specialist equipment, qualifications in BSL and skills in other communication tools such as Cued Speech.

Within Torbay we have two enhanced provisions: St. Margaret’s school in Torquay, for primary aged children and The Spires College in Torquay for secondary school pupils.  Places at these schools are controlled by the Local Authority.  Priority for places is given first to those pupils who have an EHCP for their hearing impairment.