Line management of Teachers of the Deaf
1.1 The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) was formed in 1977 by the amalgamation of The National College of Teachers of the Deaf (NCTD) and the Society of Teachers of the Deaf (STD). BATOD is the ONLY Association representing the interests of Teachers of Deaf children and young people in the United Kingdom. It includes in its membership representatives from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and from all the many branches of the profession as well as colleagues from overseas.
There are eight regional groups across the UK linked to the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf. BATOD nationally and each individual Region have regular conferences and workshops to develop the professional expertise of Association members by enhancing the CPD of Teachers of the Deaf and associated professionals and also providing support for people working with deaf children. Courses and conferences are open to non-members. BATOD publishes a refereed Journal, ‘Deafness and Education International’ (four times a year) and an Association Magazine in January, March, May, September and November.
BATOD promotes the educational interests of all deaf children, young people and adults and safeguards the interests of Teachers of the Deaf. Additional information about the Association and matters related to the education of deaf children and their teachers is available elsewhere on this website.
2.1 There is a significant uncertainty surrounding the restructuring of Local Authority services and their line management. BATOD has received a number of enquiries regarding the line management of Teachers of the Deaf where such services have been placed under new management structures. The main issue raised by members is the concern that some Teachers of the Deaf are now being line managed by a professional other than a Teacher of the Deaf. The issue specifically relates to the line management of practising Teachers of the Deaf.
Heads of services for the hearing-impaired have traditionally been themselves qualified Teachers of the Deaf. Where the service is a joint sensory service (comprising hearing and vision services), the service is managed either by a Teacher of the Deaf or a teacher of the visually impaired. Where the head of service is qualified in one discipline (hearing or vision) it is customary to appoint a senior teacher of the other discipline who can manage those practitioners. It is not uncommon to find a head of service, who is a Teacher of the Deaf, managing a senior teacher of the visually impaired, and vice-versa. This is a perfectly acceptable arrangement in BATOD’s view. It would, likewise, be rare (but not impossible) that a head of service is managed by a manager who shares their discipline. Managers being managed by non-specialist managers is a completely acceptable practice because the practice being managed is about the management and deployment of staff and not the practice of supporting deaf children.
Where difficulties have arisen, it has been in the case of practising Teacher of the Deaf being managed by a manager who is not a Teacher of the Deaf.
Decisions surrounding the approach, deployment of staff and allocation of tasks, need to be made by a manager who has a thorough understanding of teaching deaf children. It would be extremely difficult for a manager, who does not have this knowledge, to make decisions on the practice and deployment of support to deaf children. This need not be the service manager; as mentioned above; this role could be carried out by a senior teacher. However, for effective management to take place it is important that the practitioner is managed by someone who understands the role and can make informed decisions. There are parallels to be drawn from a vast number of professional bodies who make similar recommendations to those presented here1. In all cases, effective management of practising staff can only be carried out by professionals of the same discipline. Notably, Educational Psychologists (EPs) exert considerable pressure on maintaining effective line management structures to ensure efficient deployment of resources.
3.1 BATOD takes the view that effective practice and deployment of practising Teachers of the Deaf takes place when proper management is in place. By proper management we mean by a professional who fully understands the role of the teacher. We make the recommendation that this is a qualified Teacher of the Deaf who has experience of working in the field. We acknowledge this may not be possible in some circumstances. Where a service is very small or delegated to a school we make the recommendation that the LA seek professional lead from specialist schools or neighbouring LAs who can competently carry out management, including performance management.
David Couch, Consultant, September 2011