Becoming a Teacher of the Deaf with the help of a Con Powell Scholarship

The MSc/PGDip Deaf Education course at The University of Manchester is designed for both fully trained teachers who are seeking to become teachers of the deaf and for individuals who are looking to expand their research skills. Ryan Brewer, a current student on the course, fits into the former category and here he gives us the lowdown on the application process, the course itself and the scholarship that made everything so much easier… 

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Life Before the Course

After a period in the insurance industry, followed by six years as a Primary School Teacher, I can safely say teaching is the profession for me! Like many, during my time as a teacher, I have been privileged enough to work with children of various ages, from a wide variety of backgrounds, all with their own individual learning needs.

As my time in the classroom progressed, I began thinking about my next move within the profession. While I love working with the children I wanted to feel like I was progressing as a practitioner and, certainly for the foreseeable future, did not want to venture down the management route. Therefore, around two years ago I began an interest in the provision offered to children with specific needs. Moreover, during 2017, after working with a child with additional needs in my class, I developed an interest in hearing loss and how trained professionals can help deaf children within the classroom.

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Applying for the Course

After looking into different options to train as a Teacher of the Deaf, I came across The University of Manchester’s Deaf Education course. Within a couple of days (and a VERY useful chat with the head of the course, Helen), I found myself completing my application with fingers and toes crossed hoping it would be accepted!

Last spring, I was greeted with the great news that I had secured a place on the Full Time one year course at The University of Manchester. Fortunately, my current employer has been kind enough to support me through my qualification; allowing me to work part-time for the 2018-19 academic year so that I can attend lectures on Thursdays and Fridays in Manchester.


Con Powell Scholarship and the Ewing Foundation

While writing my course application I came across the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) and subscribed to them in order to access the materials made available to members. I did this with the hope that the materials would improve my (quite basic!) knowledge of deaf education.

After a friendly email welcoming me to BATOD from the head of the organisation, Paul Simpson, I was made aware of the Con Powell Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship provides full funding, as well as support from colleagues in the field of Deaf Education to students embarking on a ToD course.

By mid-May 2018 I was extremely lucky to be awarded a full Con Powell Scholarship. Not only did this scholarship provide financial support, but also tutorials with an experienced member of the Ewing Foundation’s team. These tutorials have been particularly useful for embedding my new knowledge (especially in audiology) as well as for learning about the history and development of the field of deaf education.

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My Time on The Course (so far)

Since starting the course in September 2018, my horizons have certainly been expanded. As a teacher, I thought I was reasonably clued up on subjects such as ‘language’ and ‘assessment’; however, I soon realised this was not the case – especially in the context of young deaf people. In the past few months, my insight into the world of deaf education has grown significantly, despite still being at the very beginning of my journey as a ToD.

Importantly, I have already developed a recognition of the key factors in the education of deaf children, including:

  • appropriate amplification
  • early recognition and intervention
  • the important role of parents
  • effective language assessment.


My practical skills have also developed significantly in a relatively short space of time. As someone who was somewhat disengaged by science during my school days, my brief time in deaf education has captured my scientific imagination – particularly through audiology. As a result of the excellent audiological facilities available at The University of Manchester, coupled with one-on-one tutorials I have accessed through my Con Powell Scholarship, I have quickly developed confidence around the use, operation and analysis of key audiological equipment.

As the New Year rolled in I began my first teaching practice as a ToD. While, on one hand, the thought of being the ‘mentee’ seemed alien (after mentoring several mainstream student teachers myself in recent years), I also felt incredibly motivated to put the wealth of knowledge I had gained into practice.

Looking further into the future, I have decided to complete the full Masters in Deaf Education programme, as a result of my enjoyment of the PGDip course so far! Ultimately, my move into Deaf Education has opened up a whole new world of purposeful, effective education.

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