Sue Keil, Research Officer at RNIB, summarises key findings from the Department for Education’s statistics on pupils with vision impairment.
The Department for Education (DfE) website contains a wide range of statistics on pupils and schools in England, including on pupils with special education needs (SEN). They cover topics such as the number of pupils with different types of SEN, type of school attended, whether they have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or are on SEN Support, and their educational attainment in comparison with other groups of the same age.
I have taken the information from several of the most recent tables that were published in 2016 and 2017, and produced three briefings which contain details about pupils with vision impairment (VI). Below is a summary of the key findings from each.
While most of the information given applies only to pupils whose primary SEN is VI, some of the population statistics also include details about pupils whose secondary SEN is VI. Therefore services should be warned that if they want to use the published statistics to benchmark their own data on pupils with VI, they should be very careful, particularly when using the data that only applies to pupils whose primary SEN is VI because it under-represents both the number of pupils with VI and the proportion with additional SEN.
More than 16,500 pupils with an EHCP or on ‘SEN support’ were recorded as having VI as their primary or secondary SEN. 11,592 pupils had VI as their primary SEN and 5,109 had VI as their secondary SEN. The number of pupils recorded by DfE as having VI as their primary or secondary SEN was almost 10,000 fewer than the number identified through RNIB’s research in 2015. This is because their VI may not be recorded as their primary or secondary SEN, for example if the child has multiple SEN types, or where VI is the secondary SEN but this has not been recorded.
Fifty per cent of pupils with VI had an additional SEN. The majority (72 per cent) of pupils with VI as their primary SEN had no additional SEN recorded.
The majority of pupils with VI were on ‘SEN support’ rather than having an EHCP or statement of SEN. Most pupils who had an EHCP/statement had another SEN in addition to their VI.
2.Attainment of early years and primary school aged children with VI as their primary SEN
While pupils with VI as their primary SEN were for most early years and primary age phases and subjects the highest attaining of the SEN groups, there was still a gap of between 16 and 28 per cent between VI pupils and all pupils undergoing the same assessment.
Of the 563 pupils with VI as their primary SEN who were assessed for the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2016, 44 per cent were assessed as having reached a ‘good level of development’ compared to 69 per cent of all children. Of the 749 pupils with VI as their primary SEN who were eligible for assessment for the Year 1 phonics decoding, 59 per cent were assessed as having met the expected level, compared to 81 per cent of all children.
Of the 878 pupils with VI as their primary SEN who were assessed at Key Stage 2, 34 per cent reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths (combined) and 2 per cent reached a higher standard, compared with 53 per cent of all pupils who reached the expected standard and 5 per cent who reached a higher standard.
3.Attainment at Key Stage 4 (GCSE level) of young people with VI as their primary SEN
Pupils with VI as their primary SEN were the highest attaining of all the SEN groups at GCSE but there was still a gap between VI pupils and all Key Stage 4 pupils.
Just under 1,000 pupils with VI as their primary SEN were entered for GCSE examinations in 2016. Of these, 43.1 per cent achieved five or more A* to C grades or equivalent including English and Maths, compared with 57.4 per cent of all pupils.
Over 28 per cent of pupils with VI were entered for all five components of the English Baccalaureate (which is GCSE in English, maths, science, a foreign language, and history or geography), compared with 39.7 per cent of all pupils who were entered. 16.1 per cent of pupils with VI achieved a grade C or above in all five components of the English Baccalaureate compared with 24.7 per cent of all pupils.