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How your child can be supported in a mainstream school

Most children and young people with vision impairment (VI) are educated in mainstream schools and colleges where their needs can be met by having a team of people around them working closely together. This team will include the family, mainstream staff and relevant specialist professionals.

Image: A teacher interacting a group of children as they draw in workbooks.

The names of the professionals who carry out these roles may be different depending on the country you live in; we’ll include the most commonly used terms below.

The team around the child or young person

The family

A child or young person benefits from having the people who know them best, their family, involved in decisions around support, providing feedback on progress, and enriching the educational experience by supporting learning and participation outside of school.

Support staff

Adults who work to support children and young people in schools and colleges go by a range of job titles including classroom assistant, pupil support assistant and teaching assistant. Whatever their title and role, they are key professionals as they often work closely with a child or young person on a regular basis to ensure they can access learning. This might be through direct support in lessons or through producing accessible resources that can be used in class and for homework. Support staff working with children and young people with VI should be suitably trained for their role.

Mainstream teachers

Class teachers or subject teachers with children or young people with VI in their class should have had training from an appropriately qualified professional to enable them to make their lessons accessible. They will need to have access to ongoing training and support, as required, because the recommended strategies are likely to change over time in response to factors such as changes in the curriculum or the increasing maturity and independence of the child or young person.

Teacher with responsibility for SEN/ALN/ASL

The teacher with responsibility for Special Educational Needs (SEN)/Additional Learning Needs (ALN)/Additional Support for Learning (ASL) will coordinate the support for children and young people with VI in their setting. They will also arrange regular meetings of the team around the child or young person to review the written plan of support.


Qualified Teachers of children and young people with Vision Impairment (QTVIs) are usually employed by the local authority to support schools and colleges in the local area. When a child or young person is first identified as having vision impairment, the QTVI will carry out an assessment and make recommendations on the support needed to access learning. QTVIs, along with their colleagues in the local authority vision impairment team, can provide teaching for specialist skills that children and young people with vision impairments need to be able to access the mainstream curriculum with as much independence as possible. Local authority VI teams can provide training and ongoing support to schools and colleges to enable them to meet the needs of their children and young people with VI.


Registered Qualified Habilitation Specialists (RQHSs) can provide teaching for mobility skills and independent living skills, which are essential for children and young people with VI to have full access to the educational experience and prepare for life beyond school.

Other professionals may be involved, for example eye care professionals and specialist professionals to support additional areas of need. Please see this page for a more extensive list of supporting professionals: Who does what in eye care? | RNIB

Written plans of support

The team around a child or young person will work together to develop a written plan of support. The school or college and the local authority will work together to make sure that everything in the support plan is put in place. The plan should be reviewed at least annually to consider what's working and what needs changing for the future. Find out more, including how to get help if you are not satisfied with the support your child is receiving, on ‘Getting the right support’.

Schools and colleges are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of their learners with disabilities. These might include some changes to the environment, such as fitting blinds to windows to control light levels, provision of specialist equipment, and personalisation of timetables to allow for teaching from a VI professional for specialist skills development. The Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) sets out the areas of specialist skills development that VI professionals can provide support for.

A guide to the CFVI developed by parents and carers, for parents and carers, can be downloaded here:

English: Guide for parents and carers

Welsh: Canllaw i rieni a gofalwyr

To learn more about best practice in providing educational support for children and young people with VI, read our Education Policy Statements.

Guidance and legislation

Each nation in the UK has guidance and legislation setting out how children and young people should be supported to have equitable access to education.


The Department for Education have published a guide for parents and carers describing the system that supports children and young people with Special Educational Needs or disabilities (SEND): SEND guide for parents and carers.

This document references legislation and statutory guidance relevant to SEND.

Northern Ireland

The Education Authority provides information and guidance for families with children or young people with SEN on their website: Special Educational Needs (SEN) | Education Authority Northern Ireland (

The website sets out legislation and statutory guidance relevant to

SEND: Legislation and the new SEN Framework | Education Authority Northern Ireland (

The Special Educational Needs Advice Centre website has helpful information for families about the SEN system: The Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) – Supporting parents of children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland.

The SEN support system is changing. Find out more here: New SEN Framework | Department of Education (


When your child is diagnosed with vision impairment, they will, with your permission, be entered onto the Visual Impairment Network for Children & Young People (VINCYP) pathway. As part of the pathway of care, your child will be referred to the local authority to receive educational support from its specialist team.

The Additional Support Needs (ASN) system is explained for families on Enquire’s website: Advice for parents and carers in Scotland - Enquire.

The website contains links to legislation and statutory guidance relevant to ASN: Links Archive - Enquire.


The Special Educational Needs system is currently being phased out and replaced by the new Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system. SNAP Cymru provide information and support for families to help them understand and navigate both systems and the transfer from one to the other: Home - Snap Cymru.

The website contains links to the new legislation and statutory guidance relevant to ALN: New ALN System - Snap Cymru.

In addition, the Equality Act 2010 applies in cases where a child has a disability; guidance has been provided for schools on their duties under the act: Equality Act 2010: advice for schools.

Further support

RNIB's team of regionally based Children, Young People and Family Support Officers are here to help with any questions you have about getting the right support for your child; they can also help to put you in touch with people and organisations who can support you to get any concerns you may have addressed. You can contact the team by emailing [email protected] or by calling the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.