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Torbay Hearing Support Service

The 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.

Pupils with a Hearing Impairment (HI) range from those with a mild hearing loss to those who are profoundly deaf and they cover the whole ability range. For educational purposes a child would be regarded as hearing impaired if they require hearing aids, adaptations to their environment and/or particular teaching strategies in order to access the concepts and language of the curriculum. Some pupils with a HI may also have an additional disability or learning difficulty. A hearing loss may be conductive or sensorineural and is measured on a decibel scale. Four categories are used: mild, moderate, severe or profound. Some pupils may communicate through signing instead of, or as well as, speech.

The following audiometric descriptors are used to describe the severity of a hearing loss. These are the British Society of Audiology Guidelines for Audiological descriptors:

Mild hearing loss  20-40 dBHL
Moderate hearing loss  41-70 dBHL
Severe hearing loss    71-95 dBHL
Profound hearing loss   96 dBHL and above

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 and also have British Sign language skills to level 3. They have specialist knowledge of the equipment 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. One is a qualified Educational Audiologist .

Who does our Service provide for?

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. They work with these children regardless of whether or not they have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

If your family live in Torbay but your child attends an independent school or a school outside of the Local Authority you cannot access regular support from the hearing support team. However, if your child is in an Independent school and has an EHC plan for hearing loss continued support may be made to your child for the specialist support that the school cannot offer.

How can the hearing support service be accessed?

Referrals to the Service come from the audiologists or ENT consultants at Torbay Hospital or occasionally from Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCo's) within schools or pre-school settings.

We do not have a referral form.

What happens following referral?

At Pre-school level

The advisory teacher will phone and arrange a visit to the home.

At School level

Informed Consent

Advisory teachers only work directly with children and young people with a parent/carers written permission.

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 should they so wish.

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 when the child will be visited next and thereafter the frequency of visits to the child. Input from the Hearing Support Team will vary depending on the need of your child at the time.

The frequency with which individual pupils are visited is determined by use of a nationally accepted eligibility criteria.

What happens next?

This will vary depending on the reason for the referral - please see the range of possible options below in the Local offer description section of this webpage.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Michael Freeman
Contact Position
Business Support for Advisory teachers
01803 208579

Where to go

2nd floor, Electric House
c/o Torbay Council
Castle circus

Other Details


Age Ranges
From 0 years to 25 years
Age Ranges
From 0 years to 19 years
Referral Details

St Margaret’s Academy and The Spires College provide an Enhanced provision for hearing impaired pupils.


Local Offer


How advisory teachers work with children.

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
  • Language development
  • Information on pre-school and school provision
  • Hearing tactics
  • Support and liaison with other professionals
  • The impact of language delay as a result of impaired hearing

Work at pre-school level

From the point of diagnosis of a hearing loss parents/carers are offered a visit from the advisory teachers.

At pre-school level visits to the home will be offered. 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/college.

Advisory teachers also run a pre-school gathering for parents/carers of pre-school aged children once a term.

Work at school age

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 child with a hearing impairment’s access to the curriculum.

Advisory teachers may do some direct teaching with individual pupils. This may be for a focussed period of time or on a weekly basis depending on need.

Audiological Equipment

The Hearing Support Team will provide on a loan basis assistive devices such as FM systems (Radio Aids) and soundfield systems if it is felt that through assessment your 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.

Other educational provision for children and young people with a hearing loss within Torbay

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 some children may be able to access an enhanced provision.

What is an enhanced provision?

An enhanced provision is a mainstream school that has additional staff with specialist qualifications in working with pupils with hearing impairments. This is usually a teacher with a specialist qualification in teaching children with hearing impairments and a number of specialist teaching assistants who have experience in working with children with hearing difficulties,a sound knowledge of specialist equipment, and often qualifications in British Sign language as well as other forms of sign support.

Within Torbay we have two enhanced provisions one at primary level- St. Margaret’s school in Torquay and one at secondary level- The Spires College in Torquay

Places at these schools is controlled by the Local Authority .Priority for places is given first to those pupils who have an Educational, Health and Care (EHC) plan for their hearing impairment.