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

own language.

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

secondary school.

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.''