Disabled student can pass journalism course after SQA U-turn

St Mirren fan and aspiring journalist Kyle Gunn is pictured with Buddies boss Jack Ross (right) and player Lewis Morgan. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray
St Mirren fan and aspiring journalist Kyle Gunn is pictured with Buddies boss Jack Ross (right) and player Lewis Morgan. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray
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A student with cerebral palsy will be able to take part in a college journalism course after a U-turn on the need for him to take shorthand classes.

Kyle Gunn completed a media studies course at Glasgow Clyde College and was hoping to progress to the two-year HND practical journalism course, which includes a shorthand assessment.

Unable to complete the element, the 19-year-old, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was told the college could not alter the course without approval from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The SQA had said it designed assessments to requirements set by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and believed shorthand was compulsory.

However, after the NCTJ said shorthand is an ‘’elective’’ component of the diploma in journalism, the SQA reviewed the course and has now decided to offer two qualifications at HNC and HND level in practical journalism, one with and one without shorthand.

The SQA said in a statement: “This means that candidates who are unable to learn shorthand or do not wish to learn shorthand can achieve an SQA qualification at HNC and HND level in journalism.

“Journalism students at HNC and HND level will be able to decide whether shorthand is relevant to the particular form of journalism that they intend to pursue.”

The new qualifications will be available from spring next year but arrangements will be made for people on the existing course to be be transferred onto the new framework if shorthand is not appropriate for them.

The statement continued: “This means that learners who are due to start HNC and HND SQA qualifications in practical journalism in the session 2017-18 can complete their awards without shorthand if they wish. We will write to delivery centres to advise them of these changes.

“In particular, we have contacted Glasgow Clyde College, where learner Kyle Gunn is enrolled on the practical journalism HNC/D to inform the college.

“We wish Mr Gunn every success in his studies and his future career in journalism.”

Mr Gunn, who regularly attends football press conferences as a reporter, received the support of St Mirren manager Jack Ross as well as many journalists who told him they have succeeded without shorthand.

Mr Gunn said he was “very happy” with the change.

He said: “Shorthand is obviously something I can’t do, so I’m very happy that they have changed it to allow me to hopefully get the qualification at the end.

“I don’t know how many people it’s happened to in the past but hopefully now some people won’t have to go through it.”