Publication - Advice and guidance

Qualifications for teachers of hearing and visually impaired children and young persons: guidance

Published: 30 Jan 2007
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9780755914760

Guidance on the appropriate qualifications for teachers of pupils who are hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired.

Qualifications for teachers of hearing and visually impaired children and young persons: guidance
Page 2

Purpose

1. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on what shall constitute an appropriate qualification in each of the above circumstances. Teachers shall be deemed as holding an appropriate qualification if they are able to demonstrate that they have the specific competences, as listed at Appendix A, to meet the needs of their pupil population. These specific competences comprise the specialised knowledge, understanding and skills required of teachers to enable them to teach pupils who have hearing impairments, visual impairments, or both hearing and visual impairments and who, in many cases, may also have additional complex difficulties. This guidance does not define the structure of specific courses or pathways which will result in an appropriate qualification but acknowledges that there is a range of pathways to gaining such a qualification, for example, through taking a post-graduate diploma at a higher education institution, through accredited experiential learning and/or through local authority-based, or other, training. Clearly not all training routes will result in a post-graduate diploma.

2. This guidance emphasises the need for training to be provided flexibly, including at a distance, so that there is ready access to training across Scotland; and to allow means, where necessary, for existing qualifications to be upgraded, and prior learning to be accredited to meet new requirements.

Background and purpose of this guidance

3. The Requirements for Teachers (Scotland) Regulations 2005 came into force on 30 September 2005. These included, as Regulations 5, 6 and 7, requirements concerning the employment of teachers of hearing impaired pupils, teachers of visually impaired pupils, and teachers of both hearing and visually impaired pupils, respectively.

4. Regulations 3 and 4 relate to the duty on education authorities with regard to the employment of teachers, and the requirement to employ only registered teachers:

General requirements in relation to employment of teachers

3. Every education authority shall employ adequate numbers of teachers in the schools under their management, with the appropriate professional skills and knowledge necessary to enable those teachers to undertake the teaching duties allocated to them.

Requirement to employ registered teachers

4. (1) Every education authority shall, in discharging their functions under section 1 of the 1980 Act and section 2(1) of the 2000 Act, employ only a registered teacher ("registered teacher" having the meaning set out in paragraph (2) below) as a teacher.

(2) "Registered teacher" in these Regulations means a teacher whose particulars are recorded in the register maintained by the General Teaching Council for Scotland under section 6 of the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act 1965 and includes a teacher whose registration has been marked as suspended on the basis however that, for the duration of that teacher's registration being marked as suspended, such a teacher may only be employed as a teacher -

(a) by his or her existing employer, and

(b) in his or her existing teaching post

5. Regulations 5, 6 and 7 then specify the additional requirement beyond the duty to employ only registered teachers, for teachers of hearing impaired pupils, teachers of visually impaired pupils, and teachers of both hearing and visually impaired pupils, respectively, to have specific appropriate qualifications. Regulation 8 deals with the situation where a teacher does not possess an appropriate qualification.

Requirement in the employment of teachers of hearing impaired pupils

5. Without prejudice to regulations 3 and 4, where, in discharging their functions under section 1 of the 1980 Act and section 2(1) of the 2000 Act, an education authority employ a teacher wholly or mainly to teach hearing impaired pupils that teacher shall possess an appropriate qualification to teach such pupils.

Requirement in the employment of teachers of visually impaired pupils

6. Without prejudice to regulations 3 and 4, where, in discharging their functions under section 1 of the 1980 Act and section 2(1) of the 2000 Act, an education authority employ a teacher wholly or mainly to teach visually impaired pupils that teacher shall possess an appropriate qualification to teach such pupils.

Requirement in the employment of teachers of both hearing and visually impaired pupils

7. Without prejudice to regulations 3 and 4, where, in discharging their functions under section 1 of the 1980 Act and section 2(1) of the 2000 Act, an education authority employ a teacher wholly or mainly to teach pupils who are both hearing and visually impaired that teacher shall possess an appropriate qualification to teach such pupils.

Employment of teachers of hearing or visually impaired pupils who do not possess an appropriate qualification

8. A teacher who does not possess a qualification as referred to in regulations 5, 6 or 7 may be employed by an education authority wholly or mainly to teach pupils who are hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired, if the education authority are satisfied that the teacher is in the process of obtaining a qualification as referred to in regulations 5, 6 or 7, provided that the aggregate period for which the teacher wholly or mainly teaches pupils who are hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired, does not exceed five years.

Principles

Defining appropriate qualifications in terms of competences

6. The appropriate qualifications shall be defined in terms of:

(a) knowledge, understanding and skills of a generic or core nature which will provide a sound foundation for teachers to work with children and young persons with additional support needs and;

(b) additional specialised knowledge, understanding and skills to enable teachers to operate as effective teachers of pupils who have a hearing impairment, or visual impairment, or both hearing and visual impairment.

7. The qualification focuses on the specialised knowledge, understanding and skills required by teachers to enable them to meet the specific additional learning needs of pupils arising from their hearing impairment, visual impairment, or both hearing and visual impairment. The starting point is meeting the needs of these pupils, and the competences required to do that effectively, and not on defining the structure of specific courses or other pathways to achieving an appropriate qualification.

8. All authorities are expected to have regard to this guidance in determining whether a teacher has an appropriate qualification. This is in line with their duty to provide adequate and efficient provision for such additional support as is required by each child or young person with additional support needs for whose education they are responsible under section 4 of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004. It is the responsibility of the employing authority to ensure that a teacher employed wholly or mainly to teach pupils who are hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired holds an appropriate qualification ( i.e. has the specific competences as listed at Appendix A) and that pathways for a teacher to obtain such a qualification within an education authority setting are quality assured.

9. The Requirements for Teachers (Scotland) Regulations 2005 do not specifically cover grant-aided or independent schools. 1 However, where an education authority is responsible for the school education of a pupil with a hearing impairment, visual impairment or both a hearing and visual impairment in a grant-aided or independent school, then the authority is under a duty to provide adequate and efficient provision for such additional support as is required by each child or young person with additional support needs for whose education it is responsible, as stated in paragraph 8 above. Therefore, it is good practice for education authorities to satisfy themselves that pupils, for whose school education they are responsible in grant-aided and independent schools and who are hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired, are taught by teachers who hold the appropriate qualification to teach such pupils.

Acquiring the qualification

Routes for acquiring qualifications

10. A major route by which teachers will acquire the necessary competences will be through attending courses at higher education institutions. However, this qualification may also be acquired through a combination of such courses (or earlier acquired qualifications) and other forms of accredited experience or through an appropriate local authority-based, or other, training and education at the discretion of the local authority.

11. It is appreciated that, in light of changing circumstances, an education authority may require a teacher to obtain further accreditation to cover specific knowledge, understanding and skills beyond those acquired through earlier or existing courses of training. In such cases it is anticipated that institutions and accrediting bodies will provide means by which teachers can acquire the necessary additional competences, or be recognised as having acquired them through other routes such as supervised experiential learning. Such arrangements would allow a teacher to apply for formal accreditation of the acquisition of the necessary competences through such prior learning.

Providing courses

12. Some teachers may wish to embark on a course of study to obtain an appropriate qualification. It is recognised that provision should be made for teachers who, for reasons such as service requirements, location, or personal or professional commitments, are unable to attend regular timetabled classes in a specific central location. For such cases, which may apply to the majority of teachers requiring to acquire or upgrade their qualification, courses will need to be made available through e-learning or distance learning modes with appropriate tutoring support. For many education authorities such 'distance' modes of participation in training may be the only realistic way for their teachers, both full-time and part-time, to acquire the appropriate qualifications. Whatever mode of training is used, trainees may require a regular allocation of time by their employing authority for study, appropriate visits and, where possible, a period of teaching practices in a setting different from their own current post.

Assessment criteria

13. Where an appropriate qualification is obtained through attendance on a post-graduate diploma course, the assessment techniques used, and the criteria applied, shall be governed by the same general principles as used for other post-graduate diplomas at a level equivalent to that of a (Scottish) Masters Degree.

14. Where an appropriate qualification is obtained through authority-based, or other, training and/or accredited prior learning, authorities must set down procedures for ensuring such arrangements are quality assured and will be expected to demonstrate these procedures when requested. Education authority arrangements will be monitored through the usual routes, such as through inspections of education authorities and schools by HMIE.

Prerequisites to obtaining an appropriate qualification

15. Teachers wishing to embark on a course of training with a view to acquiring an appropriate qualification must already have a General Teaching Council (Scotland) Registered teacher status 2 . For the duration of training, trainees should have appropriate access to pupils with hearing impairment, or visual impairment, or both hearing and visual impairment, depending on the particular qualification sought. It is anticipated that most potential trainees will have had recent experience in working with pupils with such disabilities. Where they have not, they may be required to undertake a prior programme of familiarisation including visits.

Language and alternative communication

16. Specialist teachers are required to possess awareness, understanding and a level of competency in the range of language and communication alternatives and augmentative communication aids appropriate to the relevant group of pupils with whom they work ( i.e. hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired pupils). Appendix A provides details of this requirement, including a demonstration of the ability to assess for the selection of the appropriate language/mode/system/media, in collaboration with parents, other professionals and, as far as possible, pupils themselves. Education authorities are responsible for ensuring that their teachers' knowledge and skills remain appropriate in light of changing pupil needs and circumstances. This is a requirement under Regulation 3 3 .

17. Teachers of visually impaired learners, for example, require Braille to Grade 1. However, it is not a requirement for all teachers of visually impaired pupils to learn Braille to Grade 2 during training as a prerequisite to acquiring an approved qualification. Authorities, however, need to ensure that all visually impaired pupils who need to use Braille are taught by appropriately qualified teachers who have competence in Braille to Grade 2. Teachers in such circumstances will be required to learn Braille to Grade 2. Similarly, for teachers of hearing impaired learners, authorities will need to ensure that teachers working with learners who use British Sign Language ( BSL) become qualified at an appropriate level in the language. This may be to level 1, 2, or 3, as appropriate.

Ensuring an adequate breadth of experience for teachers working towards obtaining an appropriate qualification

18. During a course of training it will be necessary for teachers to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills in contexts other than with the children and young persons that they normally teach. This could be by working alongside already qualified teachers and/or undertaking a study in an area different from the teacher's own current practice. Such work would be in addition to having access to video and other live materials which provide the opportunity to view, and critically assess, learning environments and pupils different from their own.

Transition period

19. Under Regulation 8 4 , education authorities must ensure that teachers employed wholly or mainly to teach hearing impaired, visually impaired or both hearing and visually impaired pupils hold the appropriate qualification, or are in the process of obtaining such a qualification, and that the total period teaching without the qualification does not exceed 5 years. It is recognised that there may be individual cases where, through the nature of employment circumstances, it may be difficult to meet this deadline. However, in such circumstances, the authority would be under a duty to make reasonable alternative arrangements in line with the Regulations and guidance.

Next steps

20. The responsibility for implementing this guidance lies in the first instance with the employing authorities. The guidance will be kept under review and refined as necessary in light of emerging practice and circumstances.