Leading Vision Impairment Organisations Call on Government to Recognise Curriculum Framework

Date posted: 15th June 2023

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) at the University of Birmingham, the professional association for the Vision Impairment Education Workforce (VIEW) and Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) are calling on the Government to recognise the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) as part of its improvement plan of special educational needs and disability (SEND) policies and practices in England. The CFVI addresses significant inequities in access to education and life opportunities for blind and partially sighted children and young people.

Calls for action are presented in the CFVI report, launched  on Friday 16th June 2023, at a special event hosted by the University of Birmingham, asking the CFVI to be:

  • recognised and referenced in England SEND policies, including the new SEND national standards
  • embedded in local authority offers, service commissioning and delivery frameworks
  • adopted to underpin practice in all education settings supporting children and young people with vision impairment and their families, in partnership with VI specialists
  • embedded within quality standards for teachers of children and young people with vision impairment and habilitation specialists across the UK.

The CFVI supports children and young people (CYP) with vision impairment (VI) aged from 0 – 25 to access an appropriate and equitable education. Formal recognition of the framework will ensure they are actively taught a range of independent learning, mobility, everyday living, and social communication skills. Currently, access to these learning areas and teaching specialists is variable and has regional differences meaning many young people are missing out or are at risk of missing out. The report details the significant consequences of these failings for children and young people which are evident in attainment and employment gaps.

Mo, a visually impaired student, explains his experience of lack of education support upon losing his sight: “I didn’t receive any specialist educational support when I first lost my sight. It was very disheartening.”

Mo continues, “I was in a bad place in terms of feeling like I was not progressing with my education, not knowing where to go and what to do. That felt quite difficult. I then found a specialist college, Royal National College of the Blind, and lots of support was finally available. Excuse the pun, but it was eye opening seeing the amount support that should have been available to me.”

Dr Rachel Hewett, Co-Director of VICTAR at the University of Birmingham, said: “We want to see the CFVI followed by all educational settings supporting CYP with VI and their families, in partnership with VI specialists. It is a legal requirement for all young people up to the age of 18 years to remain in education and therefore the support must be available across all education settings, from nursery to further education.”

Tara Chattaway, Head of Education at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “Blind and partially sighted children and young people must have full access to their education. To do this, they require additional support to help them to learn and develop strategies to access information, the built environment and how to be independent. Evidence clearly shows that support is not working as it should and consequently, we hear from students that are struggling to access their learning. This impacts their wellbeing and means that they are left behind peers when entering into adulthood and employment. We believe that by the government embedding the framework into new SEND policy will mean that students have the chance to be put on an even playing field as their peers.”

Caireen Sutherland, Head of Education and CYPF at RNIB, said: “The inequities in education provision and support available for CYP with VI cannot continue. The CFVI is grounded in both research and practice, it provides the evidence base on how best to support CYP with VI. This makes the CFVI well placed to be an integral part of the new National Standards.”

The CFVI report is available from report launched on Friday 16th June 2023 at www.rnib.org.uk/cfvi, or follow our campaign on social media #UnlockEducation.

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