Information | 29.11.2017 | By paul_simpson

Training as a Teacher of the Deaf

This page gives a brief description of the work that Teachers of the Deaf do, then describes the qualifications needed and how to obtain them.

Any degree of deafness may cause significant educational and social problems. Children who are born severely or profoundly deaf need skilled teaching to develop language and communication skills (including speech and sign language as appropriate). Many children whose deafness is less severe also need special support. Teaching deaf children and young people is stimulating and rewarding, and is made more so by continuing developments:

  • earlier and more accurate identification of deafness
  • greater understanding of language development
  • changing attitudes to the use of sign language
  • provision of more advanced hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • more informative and detailed assessment procedures.

Teaching deaf children and young people offers a wide range of work opportunities in a number of different types of educational setting. It is challenging and stimulating work that invites initiative and gives teachers the chance to develop innovative patterns of classroom practice.

Where are deaf children educated?

Most deaf children attend mainstream schools. Some of these schools have resource bases (or units) led by qualified Teachers of the Deaf. A smaller number of children are taught in special schools some of which offer residential provision. It is a requirement that pupils in these schools and resource bases are taught by appropriately qualified specialist Teachers of the Deaf and that they obtain this qualification within three years of beginning their work with deaf pupils.

Peripatetic (or advisory) Teachers of the Deaf work for local education authority advisory and support services for deaf pupils. They support deaf children who are integrated into mainstream and special schools on an individual basis. An important part of their work is collaboration with mainstream classroom teachers who teach deaf pupils from day to day, and the management of support provided by teaching assistants (TAs) or CSWs (Communication Support Workers) who often accompany deaf pupils in lessons. Peripatetic teachers also visit parents of very young children at home to advise about the children’s development and to work with them as appropriate. They also support deaf children with other disabilities. The Government expects that these teachers also obtain the qualification.

Teachers of the Deaf may also work as part of a team in hospitals or health centres, concentrating on audiological and advisory services, particularly in the early years. Children who have cochlear implants are supported by a team of professionals including Teachers of the Deaf, Speech and Language Therapists and Audiological Scientists. Some Teachers of the Deaf specialise in Further and/or Higher Education.

How to qualify

If you are thinking of becoming a Teacher of the Deaf, it is useful to arrange a visit to a special school or resource base (or unit) for deaf pupils. Local Authorities’ (LA) heads of service for deaf children can give you information about these. In order to train as teachers of deaf pupils in schools or services, teachers must have qualified teacher status (QTS), or full recognition in Scotland, and have had some classroom experience before undertaking a Teacher of the Deaf training course. It is also possible, in England, to train with QTLS but this may limit the age groups of children with whom you can work once trained. All teachers of deaf children must have special training and qualifications.

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales there are several ways of achieving QTS. For more information visit the DfE website.

In Scotland you become a qualified teacher by taking a course which leads to full recognition with the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS). See here for further details: Teachers from other parts of the UK wishing to move to Scotland need to approach GTCS about how to gain recognition:

Deaf children have an entitlement to be taught by teachers who are effective and competent. The trainee Teacher of the Deaf should usually be:

  • a qualified teacher who is effective and competent
  • an effective spoken language communicator with clear lip patterns

and should have:

  • met a range of deaf adults and children before training
  • a positive attitude towards deaf people
  • a commitment to acquire basic sign language skills to Signature level 1 or equivalent.

The trainee Teacher of the Deaf should also have:

  • high expectations of and respect for all deaf learners as individuals
  • a balanced and informed attitude towards the range of communication approaches used in the education of deaf learners
  • a recognition of the individual needs, cultural and ethnic backgrounds of deaf learners and their families
  • a positive attitude towards working in partnership with parents.

Becoming a qualified Teacher of deaf children and young people

After achieving QTS/full recognition, teachers usually need to gain some teaching experience before applying to undertake a Diploma/Certificate course in teaching deaf children. However, any experience gained with deaf children and young people, such as voluntary work, will support the application. It is possible to be teaching deaf learners while gaining the necessary experience, provided such teachers are being supervised by a qualified Teacher of the Deaf.

In the November 2018 edition of the BATOD Magazine, we highlighted the decision to use the terms Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) and Qualified Teacher of the Deaf (QToD) throughout our literature. Feedback from the membership and profession has been hugely positive about this change and BATOD is hoping that you will be happy to follow suit.

BATOD’s position is that all ToDs who hold the Mandatory Qualification should be described as QTODs and those who are in the process of carrying out their mandatory training or are due to start, should be referred to as ToDs. We do not think that the terms ‘Trainee ToD’ or ‘ToD in training’ should be used as this does not reflect the fact that they already hold a qualification to teach.

Entry requirements for individual institutions will vary. Please contact the University directly for further information. Details about the individual courses are listed below.

One-year full-time and two-year part-time courses are offered for people who want to train as Teachers of the Deaf. Details of these are given below.

Deaf teachers

Deaf people who have the relevant qualifications are encouraged to apply to train as Teachers of the Deaf. Their contribution to the education of deaf children is particularly valuable. They should discuss their application and support needs for study with the University to which they are applying. The earlier this is done, the better.


Teachers in England and Wales should ask the LA or school in which they work for support in taking a full-time training course. Such teachers may have their tuition paid for by their employers. However this is becoming more and more unusual as the great majority of teachers in training as Teachers of the Deaf are following part-time in-service training courses whilst working with deaf children. These courses are usually financed by schools and services.

Teachers in Scotland who wish to become Teachers of the Deaf may also apply for these one-year courses. For information about financial help, contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (Tel: 0131 476 8212).

Teachers in England can apply annually to the DfE National Scholarship Fund which can provide some financial support.

Furthermore, BATOD, on behalf of the Ovingdean Hall Foundation, is administering the Con Powell Scholarship to provide bursaries for teachers wishing to train but whose LA or school is not obliged to support financially.

Con Powell was BATOD’s first President.

There will be up to five scholarships awarded every year. Applicants will have to show evidence of Qualified Teacher Status, details of their chosen course provider including the name and number of the course, information about their current employment, a personal statement highlighting why they wish to undertake this training and that they understand the commitment required to complete the course, proof that their local authority or school is not obliged to fund their training and evidence that they have tried to obtain funding elsewhere. Finally they need to provide two referees. There will be an interview element to the process. Interviews will take place during the week beginning 24th May.

The Foundation will require that any successful candidate is a member of the professional organisation for Teachers of the Deaf, BATOD.

The Con Powell scholarship application period for 2022 is closed.

Please note that the Con Powell Scholarship is currently only available  to UK residents intending to study at one of the four course providers in England.

In addition, the Universities of Leeds and Manchester offer their own bursaries. See below in the individual sections for further information.

Some teachers who wish to undertake the qualification and then proceed to gain a master’s degree by further study, usually involving a dissertation, apply for the Government Master’s loan scheme. More information is available here:

Several organisations offer independent financial assistance to students who are self-financing. Details may be found in ‘The Educational Grants Directory’ by Michael Eastwood and David Casson, published by the Directory of Social Change. This is available in most public libraries and will be useful for those who are trying to obtain financial support.

You can also find some information here:

The Snowdon Trust is a charity that assists physically and sensory disabled people to access vocational and academic courses in the UK by awarding grants. These can be for equipment and essential study needs. They only give awards where funding cannot be met through other channels. Further information can be found on this website:

Here is the current specification for the mandatory qualification which is delivered by the following universities:

MQ Hearing impairment specification

The full list of courses available is as follows:

Part-time courses only

The University of Birmingham
The School of Education offers a two-year programme of study by distance education leading to a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Special Education – Hearing Impairment). The programme is open to qualified teachers, normally with not less than two years’ teaching experience. Students who successfully complete the work for the Postgraduate Diploma may then progress to MEd.
Applications are also invited from students who are not qualified to teach children but who are working with deaf pupils/students (CSWs, Tutors supporting deaf pupils in FE etc). These students are entitled to study for the University award (PG Diploma) but do not normally undertake the assessed practical element of the programme and are not eligible to obtain qualified Teacher of the Deaf status.Details from: The Receptionist, School of Education, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT. Tel: 0121 414 7168; Enquiries to Dr Emmanouela Terlektsi Tel:0121 414 4876, email:
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh offers a part-time modular programme leading to the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Inclusive Education (Deaf learners) or Masters (MSc). The Diploma programme normally takes 2.5 years and consists of six courses.
  • Sources of Knowledge (10 credits) a generic course introducing students to Masters level study.
  • Deaf Studies (10 credits) a course about the range of deaf children’s identities.
  • Collaborative Working in Children’s Services (20 credits) a generic course about working together in multi agency teams. There are alternatives to this course, e.g. Inclusive Pedagogy, Education for All.
  • Language and Communication (20 credits) about deaf children’s language acquisition and development
  • Promoting Achievement and Curriculum Access (20 credits) which is about supporting deaf children’s achievement across the age range and the curriculum with a focus on pluriliteracies.
  • Audiology and Audiometry (20 credits) about supporting the deaf child audiologically in school and at home.
  • Placement (20 credits) which is 20 days in the student’s own workplace with a QToD mentor and 15 days in a contrasting deaf education setting, again with a QToD mentor.
Those who successfully complete the Diploma can progress to the MSc, which can take an additional year. Further details from The Moray House School of Education and Sport, The University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ.
The Edinburgh course offers students close support and liaison with deaf education services, a research record in relation to deaf children’s school achievements, social backgrounds and plurilingual identities, and a strong track record of supporting deaf as well as hearing students to become QToDs. We work closely with the Scottish Sensory Centre: Students from England are also welcome and we work towards the Scottish as well as the English competencies.
Please contact the course director, Rachel O’Neill, for further details and more about how to apply. Tel: 0131 651 6429 or website:

The University of Leeds

The School of Education offers an MA in Deaf Education with Teacher of the Deaf status. This is a part-time distance learning programme (24 or 30 months) for qualified UK teachers wishing to gain the mandatory ToD qualification. This distance programme uses a range of current technologies to blend on-line learning with face-to-face day and residential sessions and regional tutorial support. The programme provides teachers with the essential and specialist knowledge, skills and experience needed to work across the full range of educational settings that a Teacher of the Deaf is likely to encounter and addresses the fundamental issues of language development, communication, achievement and good practice in the education of deaf children. Participants are expected to gain a high level of expert knowledge and understanding and also to develop crucial intellectual abilities such as reflection, critical analysis and the development of professional relationships which are considered to be essential professional qualities.
Deaf Education (Teacher of the Deaf) Study Bursaries at the University of Leeds
From September 2014, bursaries are available for UK Deaf Education schools/services funding more than one student per school/service in a single year to the part-time MA Deaf Education (TOD) programme.

For schools/services funding two students to start the programme in September 2014, a 5% bursary towards the part-time Deaf Education programme tuition fee per student per year will be applied.
For schools/services sending more than two students to start the programme in September 2014, a 10% bursary towards the part-time Deaf Education programme tuition fee per student per year will be applied.
NB Schools/services already receiving DfE National Scholarship funding are not eligible for this scheme. How to apply for a Deaf Education bursary
You will be automatically considered for a School of Education scholarship if …
  • you fulfil the entry requirements of the MA programme
  • you have enclosed a covering letter from your Head of School or Service indicating that your application is one of two or more from the same school or service.
Conditions of the award

Receipt of the scholarship is conditional upon you commencing your period of study by registering no later than 1 October in the academic year for which the award is offered. Scholarships cannot be deferred to a later year. Where places are offered to applicants who meet the criteria for this scheme notification will be sent to the Head of School or Service at the point of acceptance of the students on to the programe.

Details from Jackie Salter MA(TOD) Programme Leader MA(Deaf Education), School of Education, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT. Tel: 0113 343 4601 (direct line, voice and text); email address:

Further details are available on the website.

Mary Hare Courses in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire

Mary Hare Courses, in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, offer a PG Dip/MA Deaf Education Studies (Teacher of the Deaf). This leads to the mandatory qualification for Teachers of the Deaf, approved by the Department for Education (DfE); and delivers the linked competencies to enable candidates to work with children and young people who are deaf from 0-25 years. Students who continue after PGDip to complete a dissertation qualify for an MA in Deaf Education Studies (Teacher of the Deaf) which delivers extension competencies. The PGDip has an eight module structure taught over two years of study, with residential study weekends (five in year 1 and four in year 2)  and access to substantial online resources, learning activities and regular contact with tutors. Students uniquely have access to observation and research opportunities within Mary Hare Schools during their period of study. The course is staffed by experienced practitioners in the fields of education of the deaf and related disciplines.

Year 1

    • Language Development and the Impact of Deafness – 15 credits
    • Holistic Development and the Impact of Deafness – 15 credits
    • Introduction to Audiology – 15 credits
    • Teaching and Learning 1 – 15 credits

Year 2

    • Language Development Assessment and Facilitation – 15 credits
    • Teaching and Learning 2 – 15 credits
    • Developing Audiological Understanding – 15 credits
    • Policy and Practice – 15 credits

Year 3 (for MA): Research Methods and Dissertation – 60 credits

To satisfy the requirements for the mandatory qualification as a Teacher of the Deaf, all students undertake an assessed practical experience component in Year 1 and Year 2 of the course of study. In year 1, students undertake a 4-week placement in a provision with pupils from a different age range to their current experience in an establishment outside their own local authority. In Year 2 students undertake a 4-week placement in their current place of work, provided they currently work with children and young people who are deaf. In addition, students undertake additional visits to experience the range of educational provision for children and young people who are deaf. Students are fully supported during their placement by a supervisor appointed by Mary Hare Courses.

For further information see

Full time and part-time courses

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester (UoM) awards the University Post Graduate Diploma in Deaf Education and MSc Deaf Education. This requires one or two years on campus or two years distance learning.
The University of Manchester offers flexibility and access to research-led practice with state of the art audiology facilities which ensure graduates are prepared for changing times in the field. The course is led by action research with schools and services and has expertise in all aspects of deaf education. Learners on the programme will benefit from specialist areas of expertise such as Theory of Mind and social development in the home/classroom and complex needs. UoM are able to support bespoke training that meets individual learning and service/school for the deaf needs by using a range of on campus / elearning modes. Please ask for more details about this. The promotion of high expectations of all deaf learners is a key feature. Deaf children and young people deserve the very best and at Manchester that it what we seek to provide.
You can study full time on campus [2 days per week for one year], part time on campus [1 day per week over 2 years] or as an e-blended learner [part time over 2 years]. All students undertake supervised placements.
For details send an email to: and
More information is available here.
The University of Manchester has bursaries available each year for exceptional candidates as part of the Lawrence Werth Scholarship Fund. Please consult the website for more details.