Give Me Access to College

Blind and partially sighted students locked out of post-16 education.

We are calling for the government to ensure that blind and partially sighted students have access to the support and resources they need in post-16 education to reach their full potential.

Our report ‘Give Me Access To College’, shows a fragmented and unreliable system of support for blind and partially sighted students as they leave secondary education.

Local authorities (LAs) have a statutory responsibility to provide specialist educational needs and disability (SEND) support to all children and young people aged 0-25. However, the research has revealed, when young person reaches 16 their support either drops-off or vanishes.

Read the research report – Give Me Access To College

We are calling on the government to

  1. Ensure that adequate ringfenced funding is available to deliver statutory services to blind and partially sighted students in all post-16 education settings.
  1. Embed the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment into the proposed National Standards or updated Code of Practice so that parents and blind and partially sighted children and young people know what they should expect.
  2. Ensure as part of the SEND review that Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) are not used to determine whether someone is eligible to access statutory sensory impairment support.
  1. Ensure that all blind and partially sighted young people leave compulsory education with the skills and knowledge they need to use mainstream and assistive technology.

Give Me Access To College headline findings

  • A quarter (24%) of local authorities (LAs) provide different post-16 provision depending on whether someone studies in a mainstream or a sixth form college
  • Almost two thirds (61%) of LAs offer statutory services to blind and partially sighted students in sixth form, but less than half (44%) have a statutory offer for mainstream colleges.
  • A quarter of mainstream colleges must buy in their support, compared to 10% of sixth form colleges. Furthermore, LAs that charge for their services saw a low take up of their offer, with 20% supporting no students in the year of 2021/22.

Ramneek Ahluwalia has first-hand experience of the challenges VI students face at college. She said: “Most of my resources and materials were given to me in paper copies, which 90% of the time didn’t meet my access arrangements.”

As well as the call to government, TPT is calling on LAs to:

  • Review their provision for blind and partially sighted young people in post-16 education, to ensure that a service is in place.
  • Review their eligibility criteria and policies to ensure that EHCPs are not required to access sensory impairment services.
  • Join TPT in calling on government to ensure there is adequate funding so all blind and partially sighted young people can access local authority sensory impairment services in post-16 education.

Visually impaired student, Alice Gresswell, said: “I just feel as though I was never wanted at college in the first place. As the only totally blind student, it just felt too much trouble for them. I feel as though I have been nothing but a problem to them. I now dread going to college and if I want to go on further with my education it has totally put me off.”

Read our full report

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