Education and learning


Without proper consideration and provision, sight impairment can create barriers in education.  A child’s academic attainment should not be affected by his/her visual disability. 

Infants with sight impairment should be seen in a paediatric low vision clinic around their 4th birthday to assess their functional vision. Parents and teachers are guided on how to make the school, classroom and materials more accessible.  If appropriate low vision aids may also be prescribed.  

Children who develop sight loss at a later age should be referred to a low vision clinic as soon as possible after the onset of sight impairment. If a progressive sight loss is expected, a referral should be initiated even when vision remains good to ensure appropriate support is in place in a timely manner.

In addition to attending low vision clinics and being registered for sight impairment, children and young people living with sight loss and their families should engage with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at their school and be referred to a Qualified Teacher of children and young people with Vision Impairment (QTVI). 

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Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)

A SENCO is a teacher who coordinates provision for children with special education needs or disabilities in school.  A SENCO will observe a child in the classroom and formulates a Special Educational Needs (SEN) support plan.  They will rely on input from classroom teachers and additional supportive evidence such as reports from medical or ophthalmology appointments and low vision clinic assessments.  A QTVI should also be consulted and involved.  

Examples of support that can be provided: 

  • Reformatted enlarged printed work 
  • Access to electronic books 
  • Extra time in examinations
  • Reserved seating in the front of class
  • Smartboard streamed to a remote screen

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Qualified Teacher of children and young people with Vision Impairment (QTVI)

QTVIs support sight impaired children and young people and their families from birth through to further education.  They have an important and varied role supporting the child, the parents and teachers.

QTVIs engage with babies and parents at home to support and encourage early visual development.  They assess the functional vision and needs of children in school, liaising with healthcare professionals to promote the use of low vision aids in education.  They advise education professionals how to make the curriculum accessible and encourage independent learning.  They provide specialist training to teachers and teaching assistants on teaching techniques for students with sight impairment.

A QTVI will assist families and school in formulating a SEN plan. Where more complex needs are identified, QTVIs and/or SENCOs will assist families to apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

The role of a QTVI

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Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

An EHCP is a plan of care for children and young people up to the age of 25 who have more complex needs than those catered for within a SEN plan.  An EHCP identifies educational, health and social needs and details the additional support needed to meet these needs. It may include having a dedicated learning support assistant or a piece of specialist equipment for example. 

Parents or guardians, doctors, health visitors and teachers can request an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessment for a child from their local authority.  A young person aged between 16 to 25 can also request an EHCP assessment themselves if needed. A SENCO and QTVI should be involved in this process

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Further information and support

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Updated on July 23, 2020
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