Teachers of vision impaired children: a call for more investment

Post date: 
Friday, 12 June 2015
Professional helping child

With many qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVIs) close to retirement, RNIB Scotland is calling for more investment to train the next generation of QTVIs.

RNIB Scotland and Royal Blind are asking the Scottish Government to increase investment and strengthen the provision of specialist resources for blind and partially sighted learners in Scotland.

Dominic Everett, education and family services manager for RNIB Scotland, explains: "There is a need for more qualified VI teachers. Local authorities must meet their statutory obligations to provide appropriately qualified staff. Untrained, unqualified and inexperienced teachers are not best placed to close the attainment gap for our visually impaired pupils.

He continued: "At the same time, the introduction of a joint sensory approach has had the effect of diluting the focus on visual impairment services. The development needs of deaf and of blind children, for instance, are very different. Failure to address these differences may provide an explanation for the visually impaired attainment gap."

Royal Blind, which runs the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, also want the shortage of QTVIs to be addressed. They are concerned that:

  • Teachers face a lack of time and financial support to complete the necessary postgraduate diploma.
  • Not enough teachers are trained in fully contracted braille.
  • High quality transcription between braille and print isn’t always available.
  • There are too few mobility specialists to teach vital independence skills to blind and partially sighted children.

In England and Wales many of the same issues apply. The mandatory qualification that teachers take to become a QTVI is under review.  RNIB and VIEW are campaigning to improve the training opportunities for QTVIS. Julie Jennings, manager of RNIB’s Children, Young People and Families team explains our support for QTVIs in England:

“At RNIB we value the role of QTVI as the key factor in improving outcomes for blind and partially sighted children and young people. We have produced resources, such as a position statement on the role of the QTVI, and campaign actively to maintain local qualified support. At RNIB we employ QTVIs not only in our schools but also in our children’s team in England.

“We are working with the National College of Teaching and Leadership and the Department for Education, through the National Sensory Impairment Partnership, to review how the mandatory QTVI qualification will be delivered in future. We are working to ensure that training providers offer a course that prepares the next generation of QTVIs to meet the up to date requirements in the sector, and equips them to support the varied needs of blind and partially sighted learners.

“Finally we are also working to promote the sustainability and growth of the specialist VI education sector. We are developing a three year plan to increase the membership, role and status of VIEW as the professional association of QTVIs.”

Find out more about RNIB Scotland.

You can let Julie Jennings know your views about the training needs of QTVIs by emailing [email protected].

 

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