§ Mr. Gray
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what discussions she has had with the British Deaf Association and RNID about whether teachers of the deaf should be required to have a BSL qualification; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) whether teachers of the deaf are given British sign language training at public expense; and to what extent they are required to pay fees to achieve that training. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
[holding answer 17 June 2002]: In addition to holding qualified teacher status, teachers who are employed to teach classes of pupils with hearing impairment are required by regulations to undertake an additional specialist mandatory qualification (MQ). In July 1999, at the request of the then Secretary of State, the Teacher Training Agency carried out a review of existing arrangements in order to develop a new specification for MQ provision. The resulting specification, amended in light of consultation with a wide range of organisations, including those representing children with hearing impairment, requires teachers pursuing the hearing impairment MQ to acquire a minimum competence in signing equivalent to the stage one qualification offered by the Council for the Advancement of Communications with Deaf People.
Under the special educational needs category of the Department's standards fund, grant support is available to local education authorities and schools for training and professional development of teachers and other staff. It is open to them to use this funding to help staff to secure necessary mandatory qualifications, or other training in signing including British sign language.