WIRRAL Council has rejected claims that hundreds of deaf pupils will be left 'high and dry' if its plan to charge schools for specialist support provision is approved.

The proposal, described by the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) as a 'reactionary, retrograde step', will be considered by councillors during cabinet's budget meeting this Monday.

A final decision will be made when the full council meets on March 5.

If plans are approved, services like specialist Teacher of the Deaf support would be paid for by central government.

The NDCS says more the future of 300 children would be affected by the scheme and has joined a parents' campaign calling for a council re-think.

Hazel Badjie, the charity's North West regional director, warned: "This is a reactionary, retrograde step.

"Providing support like specialist teachers of the deaf is a legal obligation that Wirral Council is given specific money from the government to provide.

"By asking schools - schools that are already overstretched and struggling - to suddenly pay for this is simply not an option.

"This couldn't be more clear cut. Schools don't have the money to provide these services.

"Just like every other council up and down the country, Wirral has been given money by government to provide these services and they aren't planning to give any of it to schools.

"The result of this damaging proposal if it is pushed through is that deaf children who already fall too far behind their hearing friends will start to fall further back as they are supported less.

"This simply isn't a viable option for the council."

Among parents objecting to the planned charge is Martene Booth, whose five-year-old son is deaf.

She said: "My son currently gets support from a specialist Teacher of the Deaf, a speech and language therapist, as well as from a teaching assistant.

"This all comes from the council and means that my son can get a good education, just like every other child.

"I'm really worried about what the council's plans mean for my son's future.

"School will have to pay for it, however their budget is already overstretched, so it's likely that he'll lose the support he's getting."

Hazel Badjie, from the National Deaf Children's Society, continued: "Parents don't want this. Schools can't afford this.

"This flies in the face of all of the Department for Education’s guidance on how to support deaf children properly.

"At the end of the day, it’s the 300 deaf children in the Wirral who will be left high and dry.

"I want to see Wirral Council listen to our reasons, local parents' reasons, and make the right decision and drop these proposals."

A council spokesperson told the Globe: "Every child who needs this type of support will receive it; either through their school directly or commissioned by the council.

"Suggesting any child will lose any services or support is completely untrue.

"Schools have the responsibility to ensure support and they have government funding to provide tailored, specialist support to their pupils and the council is there to work with them to make sure the services are of the right type, are high quality, and provide the support which is right for each child.

"Nothing will change in this regard."