Kenneth Gibson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP)

I welcome the cabinet secretary’s statement.

A difficulty that emerged from the recession, which was highlighted by both the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, is that productivity in the UK has unexpectedly stagnated in recent years, which has placed a major drag on economic growth. What steps is the cabinet secretary taking to raise productivity in the Scottish economy and enhance our competitiveness?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP)

First, I want to recognise the National Deaf Children's Society, without whose tireless work advocating on behalf of the members, families and carers of the young deaf community we would not be having this debate today. I also thank all MSPs who supported my motion.

The NDCS is the leading United Kingdom charity for deaf people and it has been very successful in campaigning to reduce barriers and ensure equal access to opportunities for young deaf people. I believe that, given early diagnosis and a healthy, supportive environment, deaf children and young people are capable of achieving and accomplishing as much in life as anyone else is. Working in areas such as my own Cunninghame North constituency to educate families on how to support a child with deafness, the NDCS hosts a variety of events to promote deaf children’s healthy social and intellectual development and provides access to support groups and hotlines to ensure that help is available to all families with one or more deaf children when and however they require it.

Besides putting on events and providing resources in communities, the charity runs a variety of campaigns, targeted specifically at policy makers, to raise awareness of the problems that are faced by the young deaf community and to ensure that their educational standards and employment opportunities are and remain a priority for the Government. In this debate, I will highlight the educational attainment gap for young deaf learners in Scotland and its negative impact on their future achievement.

Earlier today, Máire McCormack from the office of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People contacted me to point out that article 29(a) of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child notes that the

“education of the child shall be directed to ... The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential”.

The implication of that article is that we must ensure that children who use British Sign Language as their main—indeed, often sole—language receive access to quality education from someone who is proficient in that language, but many children are failing to have the right met because local authorities are unable to provide a curriculum that is accessible to them.

As is made clear in the NDCS report “Close the Gap: Promoting positive post-school transitions for deaf young people”, which was published earlier this year, there is a distinct and unfair marginalisation of deaf students in the Scottish educational system. With 80 per cent of deaf students currently attending mainstream schools, research from the deaf achievement Scotland project found that, compared with non-deaf pupils, pupils with any degree of deafness consistently score lower and leave school with fewer to no qualifications. Surveys of the 2012-13 academic year show that nearly 10 per cent of students with hearing impairment left school with no qualifications, compared with a figure of less than 1 per cent for those who do not have additional support needs. The research also found that children who are only mildly deaf also consistently score well below the average. Because those students often possess better speech skills, serious learning problems can be easily overlooked.

Of course, there is no reason why children with any degree of deafness should achieve any less than their hearing counterparts. Deafness is not a learning disability; it does not inherently cause any mental health issue or involve any cognitive impairment. The failure to meet these children’s educational needs lies with our education system, with regard to both the social environment and, indeed, the interaction with home life.

First, on the school environment, studies found that up to a third of teachers of the deaf are underqualified or lack the knowledge and skill set needed to educate hearing impaired children adequately. Beyond that, over the past three years there has been a 16 per cent decrease in the number of teachers for the deaf in Scotland, and it is expected that more than half of the remaining specialist teachers will retire within 15 years. The basic educational support system for deaf children is lacking in both skill set and number. That is especially concerning while the number of deaf young people grows steadily in Scotland.

We see further problems when examining the socialisation aspect of school. Deaf children are especially vulnerable to isolation, bullying and low self-esteem, and they are more than twice as likely to be abused as other children. Although deafness does not innately predispose an individual to mental health problems, deaf children are 60 per cent more likely to experience mental health issues than non-deaf children are. Therefore, addressing the social needs of young deaf children is just as vital to their overall health and success as meeting their academic needs.

Regarding the home environment, with 90 per cent of deaf children born to hearing families, the need for active and mutual communication between school and home is especially important to ensure that the child’s requirements are being met. Parents are the primary advocate for their child and, in the case of a hearing impaired child, that role becomes pivotal to the child’s intellectual development.

Unfortunately, as the deaf achievement Scotland project found, communication between teachers and parents of deaf children is poor or non-existent. Teachers are often unsure how to communicate learning issues to parents, specifically in cases dealing with families from deprived communities. In nearly half of cases, researchers found that parents consistently held low expectations for their child’s development, which negatively impacted on their academic performance.

The Scottish Government has taken decisive steps to provide support in the early development of deaf children through such approaches as getting it right for every child, which helps to focus on what makes a positive difference for children and young people. We can also act to deliver those improvements through the see hear strategy, which provides a framework for meeting the needs of people with a sensory impairment.

Although such initiatives provide an excellent grounding, there is a definite need for policies that outline more specific standards and monitoring systems to ensure that the young deaf community has access to the same educational opportunities as other children. That said, I will make three final points on how to reduce the educational attainment gap.

The first is a need to address the overall lack of information that the Government has on the issue. Good policy requires accurate and relevant data, but even when determining those affected by deafness, the numbers vary. A common standard for assessing and counting the number of children with deafness is required. The best way to move forward on improving the educational outcomes of deaf children is to gain a clear understanding of the struggles that individuals face and then, from that, to create specific and effective policy.

Secondly, I hope that the Parliament will support the passage of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill. I note that many families with deaf children struggle to gain access to resources that would help them best teach and communicate with their child. I trust that, with the bill’s passage, those resources might be made more easily and widely available.

Thirdly, I point out that the attainment gap does not end when deaf children leave school; it carries almost directly over into employment. According to the deaf achievement Scotland project, the employment rate for young deaf people is consistently and significantly less than for young non-deaf people without disabilities. Educational deficiencies early on have lasting, damaging effects on the success of the individual. I ask the Government to do all in its power to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to their own and Scotland’s economic future prosperity, not least young deaf people.

12:43  

Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Kenneth Gibson

According to the World Health Organization, Scotland has some of the safest roads in the industrialised world, but drink driving at this time of year has been a problem for decades. Thus, I commend the Scottish Government for taking action and for the on-going advertising campaign. As well as supporting that campaign’s core message, will the First Minister join me in calling on drivers to abstain from drink altogether on each day that they drive, not only during the festive season but for the months and years beyond?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
6. Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP)

To ask the First Minister what impact the Scottish Government anticipates the lower drink-driving limit will have on driver behaviour this festive season. (S4F-02464)



Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

Thank you very much for that. You have given us many issues to ponder.

As our witnesses have no further comments before we terminate the session, I want to thank them very much. We have covered a lot of ground, and I really appreciate your involvement in answering our questions this morning.

As the committee agreed at the start to take the next item in private, I close the public part of the meeting.

11:46 Meeting continued in private until 12:00.  

Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

What impact will the general anti-avoidance rule have on tax avoidance in relation to devolved taxes, especially the land and buildings transaction tax, and what role should Revenue Scotland compliance officers play in that regard?



Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

Which are?



Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

That concludes questions from the committee, but I still have a couple to ask.

Going back to ATED, I note in the Law Society submission that it was

“part of a three pronged attack on the perceived avoidance of Stamp Duty Land Tax (‘SDLT’) through ‘enveloping’”.

Surely we would want to devolve that instead of switching it off completely, as it would bring in revenue for the Scottish Government and eliminate some avoidance.



Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

Of course, the issue is that it is hardly a debate between equals. The Treasury and the UK Government have the whip hand. We have already seen that in the block grant adjustment for LBTT. That is a real concern.



Finance Committee 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Convener

Thank you, Malcolm.

The VAT issue is important. After all, when Denis Healey was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1970s, he set two VAT rates: a basic 8 per cent rate and a 25 per cent rate for luxury goods. As I recall, the move was deeply unpopular because luxury goods included fridges, cookers, washing machines and so on. When Mrs Thatcher came in, the rate was changed to 15 per cent across the board, but there is a history of differential VAT rates in the UK.

I think that Mark McDonald wants to ask a small question about VAT.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Kenneth Gibson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11820: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11719: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11629: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11628: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11396: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11394: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11353: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11259: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11219: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11217: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Kenneth Gibson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03866: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23683: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02464: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02455: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03774: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02379: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03647: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22920: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03471: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03429: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Question >>