Local authority VI education service provision for children and young people with vision impairment in 2021
Children and young people (CYP) with vision impairment require a high level of specialist provision to learn on equal terms with sighted children. This report summarises findings from the most recent Freedom of Information (FOI) survey to better understand the provision of these services.
Title: Local authority VI education service provision for children and young people with vision impairment in 2021
Authors: Jaspreet Bhangoo with contributions from Emma Edwards Caireen Sutherland and Roisin Jacklin. Publisher: RNIB.
Provision for specialist educational support for children with a vision impairment (VI) is essential to ensure they are not disadvantaged in their education. Having the right support in place can remove the barriers to learning and enable them to develop the specialist skills they need to succeed, not just at school but as adults with full lives.
In order to better understand and monitor the provision of specialist education services for children with a vision impairment, RNIB runs an annual survey of local authorities across England. This report summarises findings from the most recent Freedom of Information (FOI) survey in Autumn 2021.
Whilst this research has identified pockets of good practice, overall, the findings show a system of specialist provision under significant pressure:
- 39% of authorities have seen their budgets cut or frozen over the last year. There are 3,517 children and young people supported by the local authorities that underwent budget cuts.
- Almost two thirds of local authorities (61%) reported an increase in budgets in the last year.
- Of the local authorities that had their budgets cut in 2020, 56% saw an increase in budget in 2021. However, 23% saw their budgets being cut further in 2021.
- In the past four years, over half of local authorities (53%) have had their VI education service budget cut at least once. These authorities support a total of 12,496 children and young people, over a third of the active caseload.
CYP supported by the service
- The total number of children and young people on active VI caseloads, or known to VI services, was 30,082 for 2021. This represents a 5% increase from 2020 and an 8% increase from 2017.
- The total number of CYP across 142 authorities that use braille as their sole or main literacy medium across England is 784, which represents a 9% increase in the past three years.
Caseload and capacity
- There are a total of 599 full time posts for QTVIs across 142 local authorities, this figure is inclusive of the those in training or due to begin training.
- Out of 142 local authorities, 10% have a QTVI caseload ratio of over 100. This is a 3% decrease from 2017.
- 38% of local authorities have reported an increase in full time QTVIs, this is an increase of 2% compared to 2020
- A similar proportion (35%) reported their QTVI numbers remained the same, and 28% reported a decrease.
- There are a total of 3,861 pupils that are currently on active habilitation caseloads, with a further 559 waiting to be assessed.
- This represents one in eight CYP who require habilitation support.
- Over half of authorities employ a habilitation specialist or specialists, whereas 34% said an external organisation is commissioned to deliver the service.
- A further 7% said no habilitation services are delivered.