Why do blind and partially sighted children and young people need support from specially qualified teachers? Take a look at the evidence here...

Child's hands raised

Cuts to specialist support services have the potential to dramatically affect the support children with vision impairment receive, and how well they do at school and in later life.

RNIB collects data on local authority vision impairment (VI) education services so that we can monitor changes to provision for children and young people. See the key findings from our 2015 Freedom of Information (FOI) request to local authorities in England.

Protecting specialist services for children with vision impairment

Our information leaflet ensures that local authority officers understand the importance of maintaining specialist education services for children with vision impairment even when budgets are tight. It also explains the legal implications of changes that reduce specialist support.

New updated edition for 2017

At RNIB we would be pleased to advise local authorities on the issues raised in this document.

Effective and innovative practice in the delivery of specialist vision impairment services for children and young people 

RNIB has worked with local authorities to identify case studies of effective and innovative practice in the delivery of specialist vision impairment services for children and young people. 

Case study: ‘Vision for learning’ building VI expertise in special schools, an effective practice case study: Bradford vision impairment (VI) service.

This case study describes a model of working between the specialist VI education service and special schools, to support pupils with VI in special schools. 

Case study: Joint working across education, health and social care effective practice case study: Bedford Borough vision impairment (VI) Team.

This case study describes a model of joint working across education, health and social care teams, to support children and young people with vision impairment and their families. 

Case study: Children and families officers effective practice case study: Leeds Sensory Service Visual Impairment Team.

This case study describes how a team of children and family officers (CFOs) work with early years children in the family home, as well as supporting early Braille readers in primary school. 

Case study: Transitions and further and higher education effective practice case study: Surrey Physical & Sensory Support post-16 service.

This case study describes how specialist teachers and support staff in Surrey provide support for young people with VI on transition from school and in further and higher education settings.

Evidence to support specialist provision

This section provides useful information to underpin the need for specialist services for blind and partially sighted children. The information is grouped into the five key areas:

1. Statutory requirements and guidance for LAs

There are several key areas where schools and local authorities have statutory obligations to children with special educational needs and/or disabilities in relation to the Children and Families Act 2014. Our SEND reforms page has guidance t to help support your case.

2. Guidelines and quality standards in education

There are many policies, guidelines and standards relating to educational provision for blind and partially sighted children. These do not have statutory force but are useful to reference as effective practice.

3. Evidence of need for specialist support

Where there is clear evidence of the need for specialist support, it follows that there is a requirement for specialist intervention to address that need. This document contains the latest research evidence to highlight the need for this specialist area of support.

RNIB evidence based review on the needs of children and young people with vision impairment

The RNIB review presents evidence from the research literature of the developmental effects of vision impairment on babies, children and young people.

International review of the literature of evidence of best practice models and outcomes in the education of blind and visually impaired children

Provides a detailed evidence base of the effects of childhood vision impairment and gives recommendations for ensuring effective educational support and teaching practice.

A review of the literature into effective practice in teaching literacy through Braille

Brings together research evidence on effective practice in teaching literacy through braille in mainstream settings. The findings are presented to be of practical use for teachers in their approaches to the teaching of literacy through braille to young children.

4. Demonstrating impact of VI service provision

This section contains resources to assist VI services in providing evidence of the added value they contribute to the outcomes for blind and partially sighted pupils. The Quality standards for special educational needs support and outreach services - Department for Education (2008) makes the important point that services can take equal credit with schools for the progress of learners they support.
The National Sensory Impairment Partnership is developing tools to assist services with benchmarking clear outcome measurements for children and young people with sensory impairment in order to show the value added by their input. Visit the NatSip website to read more about 
  • Outcomes project
  • VI independence outcomes
  • Quality Improvement guidance
  • Local Offer ‘Creating confidence’ 

5. Ofsted reports on LA specialist support services

The reports in this section present evidence of the impact of models of SEN support on learners with a view to informing policy and practice.

Inclusion: the impact of LEA support and outreach services (Ofsted 2005)

This report reviewed the quality of external SEN support to schools and provides an analysis of good practice in six local authorities. Download this report on the Ofsted website

Inclusion: does it matter where pupils are taught (Ofsted 2006)

This report examines the factors that promote good outcomes across a range of different provision for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. Download this report from the National Archives.

Campaigning against cuts

We have lots of advice and guidance on campaigning  to help you campaign against cuts in your local area.