Teachers may in the future be able to become apprentice Teachers of the Deaf as a way of becoming qualified to provide specialist support to deaf children and their families.
Since autumn 2019, NDCS been working with the National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP), the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and a team of colleagues from across the sensory impairment sector to develop a Level 7 apprenticeship route for training to become a qualified Teacher of the Deaf.
The apprenticeship will be for a qualified teacher of sensory impairment, with different specialist areas for deafness, vision impairment and multi-sensory impairment. Apprentices will have to state which particular area they wish to specialise on when applying, in order to become a qualified teacher in that one specific area.
Once the apprenticeship has been approved, local authority specialist education services and schools will be able to draw from funding available through the apprenticeship levy to cover most of the costs available in training staff to become qualified Teachers of the Deaf. Through the apprenticeship, trainee Teachers of the Deaf will also have protected time for study.
Currently, to become a qualified Teacher of the Deaf, you must first qualify as a teacher and then undergo one or two years training to gain a ‘mandatory qualification’. This is a required qualification for those wanting to teach classes of deaf children. The apprenticeship pathway we are developing will not affect teachers who choose to train in this way if, for example, they choose to self-fund, have their training funded by a charity, or if they come from another country.
Under the apprenticeship, teachers will still have to focus on achieving the appropriate specialist mandatory qualification through one of the approved training providers. After achieving that, the apprentice would then take a specialist End-point Assessment to obtain the apprenticeship.
The trailblazer group developing the apprenticeship is employer led and has broad representation of managers and employers across a selection of local authorities and special schools; as well as representation from the National Sensory Impairment Partnership, RNIB and the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD). There is also representation from three of the University current course providers for trainee Teachers of the Deaf, and from link partners at the Institute for Apprenticeships.
The trailblazer group has made a great deal of progress with this work. The Occupational Proposal has been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, and we have developed a draft Occupational Standard. We are now working on producing an End-point Assessment.
The group are hopeful of submitting documentation for final agreement with the Institute in their January 2022 cycle. We are hoping that the apprenticeship can come on stream for September 2023 cohorts.
We know that many authorities and schools are facing significant funding issues that makes it harder for them to fund the training for new Teachers of the Deaf. We also know that there has been a significant 15% decline in the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf since 2011. We hope that by creating this apprenticeship, more funding will become available to train the next generation of Teachers of the Deaf and put funding for training on a more sustainable basis.