2016/17 policy update for children with vision impairment
Monday, 12 December 2016
Emily Papaleo, Campaigns Officer (Children and Young People) at RNIB, provides an update on policy changes and campaigns that could affect the children and young people you support.
Grammar schools consultation
RNIB responded to the government’s recent Schools that work for everyone consultation. We are very concerned that the proposal to create an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, makes no reference to children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) at all.
We are also concerned that current Cognitive Ability Tests (CAT) used for selection purposes by grammar schools, are not accessible for children with vision impairment (VI). Questions rely on accurate and speedy visual identification in order to find the correct answer and on detecting patterns in a series of drawn shapes. These tests cannot be modified in a way that is fair for children who are blind or have severe VI.
We are urging the government to ensure their proposals do not discriminate against children with VI.
Evidence from Birmingham University’s longitudinal transitions research shows that transition from school to higher education, employment and independent living can be problematic for young people with VI. The research identifies significant challenges for young people accessing higher education in particular. These include young people regularly not receiving specialist guidance to plan support and equipment they might need before entering university, and some students facing inaccessible learning environments and a lack of accessible reading, lecture and examination materials.
Ofsted’s latest annual report, published on 1 December, has identified that in some parts of England, fewer than 40 per cent of pupils with SEND support are progressing “well”. Provision and planning for young people who have SEND aged 19 to 25 was also identified as weaker than for provision for younger pupils. This in is line with RNIB’s research, which shows a postcode lottery of support for children with VI and that, in 2015, over 20 per cent of VI services weren’t providing post-school support.
We are writing a case study about effective practice in post-school support, which will be available in February 2017 on the education professionals section of the RNIB website.
Assessment levels for children
The Rochford Review of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, published its final report in October 2016. The Standards and Testing Agency will be consulting on the full recommendations in early 2017.
My role is primarily focused on developing campaigns around access to specialist education support, which our research shows is inconsistent and increasingly under threat from budget cuts. If you, or the young people and parents you work with, would be interested in getting involved, please get in touch at [email protected]
Also, if you have feedback on any of the issues above, please email [email protected]