Charity calls for level playing field in learning for blind and partially sighted pupils

Press Release | 23/10/2018

Today (Tuesday 23 October), Scotland’s largest sight loss charity is launching a new campaign calling for better chances in education for pupils with vision impairment. Royal Blind is taking forward its campaign “Our Vision for Equal Education” which highlights the need for increased support in Scotland’s schools for blind and partially sighted pupils.

Pupils at the Royal Blind School learning Braille with a teacher.Royal Blind has highlighted that because up to 80% of our learning is through our vision, pupils who are vision impaired start at an immediate disadvantage to their fully sighted peers. There is also a growing number of children in Scotland’s schools who are vision impaired, but the most recent figures show there has been a fall in the number of specialist teachers.  The charity is concerned that this is contributing to an attainment gap for young people with vision imapairment.

Royal Blind’s Vision for Equal Education is calling for action in four key areas:

A Scottish Government Action Plan to recruit and retain the specialist teachers we need for increasing numbers of pupils who have vision impairment

A new SQA training qualification in vision impairment for education support staff and others including those providing care and therapy

Effective transitions for blind and partially sighted young people

A fair and pupil-centred placement system for young people who are vision impaired.

The Royal Blind School provides both specialist education at the school and support for staff working with blind and partially sighted pupils in mainstream schools. 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind said:

“Specialist support is vital for pupils with vision impairment if they are to be empowered to succeed in education.  Research has shown that up to 80% of learning takes place through our vision, which is why additional support for pupils who are blind and partially sighted is so important. Our education system must respond to a growing need to support children and young people who have vision impairment. 

“The Scottish Government’s school census figures show that the number of pupils with vision impairment has more than doubled, from 2,005 in 2010 to 4,331 in 2017. However, over the same period there has been a reduction in the number of specialist teachers for children and young people with vision impairment.  Our vision for equal education is that all pupils with vision impairment receive the specialist support they need to succeed, whether that be in mainstream or a specialist setting like the Royal Blind School. This needs to be a shared vision for blind and partially sighted young people, because we need to work together in government, parliament, local authorities and the third sector to make this happen.”