Loving every minute of teaching the Deaf

The postgraduate Deaf Education degree at The University of Manchester provides qualified teachers with the opportunity to obtain the mandatory qualification to work as a Teacher of the Deaf. The course is flexible and can be approached either as an MSc or PGDip and as a full time degree or a part time one. Sabrina Lee is a recent graduate from the course and below she outlines her thoughts on the programme and provides us with an insight in to what her day to day career is like now that she’s a fully fledged Teacher of the Deaf…

What I was doing before studying at Manchester

I originally trained as a British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreter and worked in a range of educational settings with Deaf pupils in both primary and secondary schools and colleges. I knew I wanted a career in Deaf Education and was fortunate enough to be offered a place to complete my teacher training in a Deaf specialist school. I was then employed by a mainstream school with a provision for Deaf pupils as Teacher of the Deaf.

The decision to study Deaf Education at Manchester

Whilst in this role at a mainstream school, I made the decision to study Deaf Education at the University of Manchester. Having already had a number of years working in Deaf Education, I looked in depth at all the Deaf Education courses on offer to see what their courses and modules entailed. I knew the areas of Deaf Education which interested me and I was keen to be able to develop my practical skills by underpinning them with the theory.

Audiology and technology are areas I’ve always been interested in. Manchester has a specialist department for audiology and having had conversations with the course leader, I knew this course would develop my skills.

A decision well made

I studied on the distant learning route which had it challenges as you had to have the motivation to take part in self study alongside a full time job. Thankfully, the course lecturers were able to support distant learners by offering drop in sessions which enabled us to ask any questions we may of had, as well as offering tutorials to support modules. The study weekends in Manchester were also useful for us to meet other distant learners from all over the UK as well as further afield. They enabled us to have some on campus learning and meet our colleagues in person.

The course also offers students the opportunity to acquire practical skills such as setting up radio aids and running hearing aids through test boxes. The University of Manchester has equipment that sets students up well for the future. We were trained both on the FP35 and Aurical HIT test boxes, which is the newest technology to date. .

I loved every minute of the course. It made me more passionate to fight for my pupils access to education through appropriate audiology technologies.

My career since graduating

I completed my second placement in a Deaf school and took the opportunity to apply for a job at this school when one was advertised. I was successful and am now employed by this school as a Teacher of the Deaf and I absolutely love it. I teach through BSL or Sign Supported English (SSE), with English being taught separately and structured to ensure that pupils are able to progress in both languages. I am looking to stay in my current school for the foreseeable future and develop my career in Deaf Education.

A typical day at work for me

Children arrive in the mornings and I complete hearing aid checks. Not all my pupils have hearing aids, but for those that do, I ensure they are clean, working and connected to the radio aid. We then move onto English and Maths lessons, following the national curriculum. My pupils are year 6, so it is paramount to prepare them for the upcoming SATs. It is important that work is differentiated for pupils who are working at different levels, and depending on the needs of the pupils, occasionally the group is split. Teaching small groups of pupils enables me to meet the needs of the pupils and offer them support when needed. 

In the afternoons,  we do topic lessons, which often are practical to ensure pupils can really embrace and understand the subject and the topic taught. In addition, the school offers 30 minutes daily for pupils to complete both individual reading or reading with an adult. This ensures that unknown language can be identified and learnt.

My advice to prospective Deaf Education students

It is a fantastic course which offers a fantastic opportunity to pursue a career in Deaf Education. The Manchester course offers both practical and theory opportunities with a fantastic support structure in place. I looked at all the Deaf Education courses before I applied for Manchester and decided that this was the one which offered me the best mixture of both practical and theory. 

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