THE first profoundly deaf student to train as a teacher in Scotland
graduated from St Andrew's College in Bearsden, Glasgow yesterday.
Mr Gerald Hughes, 38, realised a 15-year ambition to complete his
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one-year postgraduate course to become a secondary school maths teacher
after finishing an Open University course. He now hopes to teach in a
school for the deaf in Glasgow.
As he waited to collect his degree along with other postgraduate
students, Mr Hughes said it had been a long struggle to become a teacher
but said he believed deaf children would benefit enormously from being
taught by someone who was also deaf. He said he now hoped that other
deaf students would follow his example and enter the teaching
Speaking through a sign language interpreter, Mr Hughes described how
students at the college had at first found his presence a little
frightening but had soon adjusted and attempted to learn a smattering of
signs. He attended lectures with the help of his interpreter.
Mr Hughes, whose wife is deaf but has two young hearing daughters,
said he had been taught to speak as a child and was not allowed to use
sign language, which has only been taught this century since 1979.
However, when he became a language researcher he had become interested
in signing and felt it was important that deaf people developed their
Describing Mr Hughes's success as a major breakthrough in teacher
education, Mr Ivor Sutherland, registrar with the General Teaching
Council, said there had been a significant shift in attitudes towards
disabilities. There is already a blind teacher employed in a Strathclyde
Meanwhile, Cardinal Thomas Winning has warned that planned
redundancies at the college also threatened the future of denominational
St Andrew's plans to make 28 academic and 25 support staff redundant
in a strategy to absorb funding cuts over the next two years.
But, in an interview with Flourish, the newspaper of the archdiocese
of Glasgow, Cardinal Winning said the loss of the college ''whether
through a dimunition of the quality of training it provides, or by the
erosion of its distinctive Catholic ethos, if forced to amalgamate with
a secular college or university, would be severely wounding.''