What support is available for my blind or partially sighted child at a mainstream school?

Each mainstream school has a Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who will work with you to look at how your child's education needs can be best met at the school. The sensory visual impairment services team should also be involved in helping the school to put in place appropriate resources and support to ensure your child has full access to the curriculum and broader school life.

The types of support that blind or partially sighted children can receive can be from a teaching assistant, either directly in class or to prepare materials in braille or large print. It can be from a Habilitation/Mobility Officer, to help your child learn routes around school and independence skills. Or to help them with low-tech and high-tech equipment such as task lighting, magnifiers, accessible equipment such as tactile/large print rulers, black pens, talking science equipment and braille equipment.

Some pupils can also use computers, laptops or IPads with accessibility software (enlargement or screen-reader/talking) features.

If needed, arrangements should be made in regard to playtime safety and movement around the school environment, and to take part in extra-curricular activities such as school trips.

Some children can be supported using the resources and expertise from within the school and school staff. In some cases external services, resources and expertise can be brought in.

In England this level of support is called Special Educational Needs (SEN) support. (This was formerly referred to as two categories, School Action and School Action Plus. SEN support replaces both as one category.)

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan) may also be drawn up for children with more complex needs.

Statements of Special Educational Needs are now being replaced under new legislation, so they will not be written for newly-referred children and young people. Pupils who had an existing statement should now have been moved into the new framework.

You can find more information about getting the right support in RNIB's SEN and inclusion web page. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the terminology is different, but the principles of assessment and support are the same. 

Guide Dogs also provide an education support service which can give you advice about rights for children with sight loss in education which can be found on Guide Dogs children and young peoples services and support web pages.

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