Title: Educational attainment and progress of young blind and partially sighted pupils in England.

Author: Paul Bassett, Statsconsultancy, Publisher: RNIB, Year of publication: 2010.


Previous research for RNIB into the educational attainment of pupils aged 14 and 16 had found that the attainment gap between blind and partially sighted pupils and those with no special educational needs (SEN) appeared to be present from an early stage in their education, before they started secondary school (Chanfreau and Cebulla, 2010).This study was therefore carried out to find out:   

  • whether the attainment gap is present when children first start school  
  • whether it then remains the same, increases or decreases with age  
  • the effect of other factors such as having another SEN, gender, ethnicity and social disadvantage.

Key findings   

  • Primary aged pupils with a visual impairment are more likely than pupils with no recorded special educational needs (including those who are supported at School Action) to experience social disadvantage.       
  • While pupils with a visual impairment have higher attainment and make better progress than other SEN groups, they have lower attainment scores at the end of Reception when compared with pupils with no recorded SEN/at School Action and this gap appears to increase with each Key Stage.   
  • As had been found with older pupils, for pupils with visual impairment the most important factor is whether or not a pupil has another SEN in addition to a visual impairment. Pupils with a visual impairment as their single SEN do much better than pupils with a second SEN.    
  • Having another SEN has an even greater negative effect on pupils with visual impairment than pupils with other types of SEN