Mainstream settings will usually work together with the local authority to put in place the provision detailed in your child's written plan of support (find out more about written plans by visiting our page on Getting the right support).
The school or college may make some adaptations to the environment and how it operates to make the school experience more inclusive.
Day-to-day support is likely to be provided by mainstream staff; specialist support from the local authority VI education team may be provided in the form of advice and guidance or directly by visiting specialist professionals, such as QTVIs.
Examples of input from the local authority VI team could include:
- VI awareness training for mainstream staff.
- Training for class/subject teachers on how to make their lessons accessible.
- Training for support staff on how to enable access to learning and promote independence and social inclusion.
- Direct teaching of specialist skills for the child or young person to enable them to access the mainstream curriculum with as much independence as possible.
Even if the QTVI doesn't need to visit regularly they can still be contacted for advice and guidance at any time. It is common for educational settings, or families, to ask for a new functional vision assessment and updated recommendations every now and then as the child or young person gets older, as the curriculum changes, and in preparation for transition to a new stage of education or in response to other changes in circumstance such as a change in vision.
Mainstream with additional support on-site
The mainstream setting and the local authority will work closely together to put in place the provision detailed in your child's written plan of support. The school or college may already have made some adaptations to the environment and how it operates to make the school experience more inclusive for children and young people with VI.
Students will attend mainstream lessons on the whole but day-to-day support is likely to be provided by a team of VI specialists who are based in the school. This team will often be made up of a QTVI and support staff who have had specialist training both to support children and young people with VI in lessons, and to produce curriculum resources in accessible formats such as large print, electronic and braille.
There is usually a resource base within the school where curriculum materials are produced and stored and where individual teaching can take place. This could include, for example, specialist skills teaching, such as for braille or assistive technology, and pre-teaching or post-teaching to enhance inclusion in mainstream lessons. Some resource bases even have adapted kitchens for the teaching of independent living skills.
VI specialist settings
Specialist schools and colleges for children and young people with VI design their campus, school systems and teaching to be accessible so that students can be as independent as possible within that environment. Class sizes are normally smaller than in mainstream settings.
Class teachers and subject teachers are usually also trained by QTVIs, and support staff have had specialist training to work with children and young people with VI. Teaching for specialist skills is often embedded in the school's curriculum and residential pupils can receive independent living skills lessons as part of the residential experience.
Specialist settings provide the opportunity to develop a peer support group with lived experience of VI.
Children and young people whose needs can't be met in mainstream might attend a special school or college. Class sizes are normally smaller than in mainstream settings and the ratio of staff to students is higher. The curriculum offered will be adapted to reflect the needs of the students and many special schools offer interventions on-site such as speech and language therapy, physiotherapy etc. and some have special facilities such as sensory rooms and therapy pools.
Staff specialise in teaching high needs students, but do not necessarily specialise in VI. Specialist support from the local authority VI education team may be provided in the form of advice and guidance or directly by visiting specialist professionals, such as QTVIs. Examples of input from the local authority VI team could include:
- VI awareness training for staff
- Training for class/subject teachers and support staff on how to make learning accessible for the child or young person with VI
- Direct teaching for specialist skills needed to access learning and increase independence
As for children and young people attending mainstream settings, even if the QTVI doesn't visit regularly they can still be contacted for advice and guidance at any time or be asked to carry out a new functional vision assessment in order to make updated recommendations.