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Northern Ireland Assembly: Teacher-Training Provision

nialogo.gifPat Ramsey (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

4. asked the Minister of Education to detail the provision for training teachers of deaf pupils. (AQO 3017/08)

Caitriona Ruane (Sinn Féin)

Tríd is tríd, déanann an oilúint múinteorí thosaigh múinteoirí atá cáilithe go ginearálta. Ach aithníonn an oilúint i riachtanais speisialta oideachais riachtanais speisialta daltaí agus díríonn sí ar straitéisí le riar ar na riachtanais sin.

Initial teacher training produces generally qualified teachers. However, training in special educational needs in all courses covers the recognition of pupils’ special needs and focuses on strategies to meet those needs. Some student teachers choose a special-educational-needs-specific option during their training programme, and some spend part of their teaching practice in special schools.

During the induction and early professional developmental stages of new teachers’ careers, they are also educated in — and expected to demonstrate their competence in — the recognition of pupils’ special educational needs. The Department’s schools census statistics for 2007 show that there were 887 children with severe, profound or mild/moderate hearing loss on the special-needs register. To ensure that teachers of the deaf receive appropriate in-service training, the Department of Education resources the education and library boards to fund a number of places on a mandatory course for those teachers who are employed by schools or boards. Candidates for that training must meet certain criteria that are set by the Department of Education.

Recently, the Department allocated £10,000 to the education and library boards to cover the costs of training for teachers of the deaf who work with children up to the age of three. That allocation was made on foot of the Department of Health’s hearing screening programme for newborns.

I have also been advised by the chief executives of the education and library boards that a range of training is available for teachers of the deaf to ensure their continuing professional development.

Pat Ramsey (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

I thank the Minister for her response. Does she acknowledge the importance of training for teachers of deaf children? Will she confirm that the issue will be included in the special educational needs review? When will the review be concluded and its results publicised?

Caitriona Ruane (Sinn Féin)

Training for teachers of deaf children is important. I will pass on Mr Ramsey’s comments on the special educational needs review to the review team. The review will go to the Committee for consultation soon — if it has not already done so. I am looking at the Chairperson of the Committee for Education for confirmation, but I think that it is in the process of going to the Committee. It will be a fundamental review, and I will pass on any comments that are made on it today to the review team. Members will have opportunities to contribute when the review is before the Committee and at all other stages.

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