This page outlines the professionals and guidelines supporting your child in schools across the UK and gives access to the relevant legislation in your country. 

An overview of the support process, who to contact and how to get started is covered in our section Getting the Right Support and you may want to read What to look for when Choosing a School.

If your child has complex needs, please also visit: Thinking about school – children with complex needs.

Professionals

A number of professionals will be supporting your child and ensuring their access to education. The key specialist professionals who you’ll be communicating with are below:

  • Learning Support Assistants support a child who has disabilities in the education setting and may also adapt learning materials outside of lesson time.
  • SENCos / ALNCos / ASN teachers are members of staff at the education setting who is responsible for coordinating the support for children with disabilities.
  • QTVIs  are education specialists who will visit the education setting to make an assessment of your child and will make recommendations for your child’s access and support. They will provide education support until the age of 25 or until your child leaves education.
  • Habilitation specialists (RQHS) will support your child with learning mobility and independence skills.

Accessing the curriculum

We have a large amount of guidance, resources and training for teachers, teaching assistants and QTVIs about how to make the curriculum accessible for children and young people with vision impairment. Visit our Education Professionals section for full details.

You can also use our Education Policy Statements to help you with specific types of support such as deployment of teaching assistants or accessible formats for exams.

You may find that the justifications for some of your child’s needs come more easily than others. Make a note of any way in which they’re struggling to access their work in a diary and each time it happens, and you’ll have a good idea of what needs addressing at each review meeting. Equally, make a note of anything that’s working really well to give credit where it’s due and define a solid, positive base from which to build further plans.

Country-specific guidance

England

Children with a vision impairment will often be given support plans in school, coordinated by their school’s SENCo and reviewed once per year.

There is a separate statutory organisation in each Local Authority called the Information, Advice, and Support Service (IASS) which may be able to help you with area specific education advice. These can usually be found by searching for “IASS” plus the name of your Local Authority on any internet search engine.

Education, Health and Care Plans (ECHPs)

EHCPs are legally binding support plans that may be given to those with severe or multiple needs. Your QTVI will let you know whether or not your child may be eligible for an EHCP.

The EHCP will cover all areas of life. Parents and young people can have control of a personal budget to buy support detailed in the EHCP which could cover training and support for developing independent living skills (habilitation and mobility), therapeutic treatments, specialist equipment and training, and support workers.

You, your child, your child’s school, and the QTVI all need to agree on the EHCP before support can be put in place, reviewing plans annually.

SEN guides

Read our updated England SEN guide that looks at the processes around ensuring a child with special educational needs gets the appropriate support.

Legislation

Wales

Children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) are supported by the ALN framework, which was introduced on 1 September 2021. Statements and Individual Education Plans will be phased out by Summer 2024. Those receiving support in education for the first time after 1 September 2021 will come under the ALN framework and may have an Independent Development Plan (IDP). Those receiving support before 1 September 2021 will continue with previous arrangements until they are transferred to an IDP. 

Independent Developments Plan (IDP)

An IDP is a statutory plan maintained by a school or local authority that sets out a description of an individual’s ALN, the additional learning provision (ALP) in place to account for their needs, and other associated information. IDPs are flexible and will vary and change depending on the needs of the learner. 

SNAP Cymru provide information, advice and support for parents, children and young people who have, or may have, special educational needs or disabilities, and may be able to help with specific questions or concerns: Home - SNAP Cymru.

There is a FAQ on the ALN system available on the government website: The additional learning needs transformation programme: frequently asked questions.

Legislation

Scotland

Your child should be provided with the support they require according to their individual needs. If your child is identified as having a vision impairment then, with your permission, the Local Authority will be notified by your ophthalmologist via the Clinical Audit System at point of diagnosis. Your child will be entered on to the Visual Impairment Network for Children and Young People (VINCYP) pathway for support from the Local Authority. Scottish systems refer to Additional Support Needs (ASN).

Child’s Plan and Coordinated Support Plan

These are parent-led support documents that will be developed to ensure your child’s development in all areas of life. Support will be provided based around these plans and may be involve professionals from the health, social, and education sectors all working together.

The support available to your family is outlined on the VINCYP website.

Legislation

Northern Ireland

The way that education support is provided in Northern Ireland is currently changing. Please get in touch with your family support officer for individual advice and guidance by calling 0303 123 9999 or emailing [email protected].

The Government’s education website outlines the structure of the support that will be available under the New SEN Framework | Department of Education (education-ni.gov.uk).

Legislation

Further support

Our team of regionally based Children, Young People and Family Support Officers are here to help. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you’d like to talk further about any of the above, then please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling us on 0303 123 9999.