VIScotland Parent Guide to Mainstream Visual Impairment Education
Who will I be working with?
As your visually impaired child makes his way through the education system you will come into contact with many different professionals, whose job it is to ensure that your child is able to succeed in a mainstream environment. As this guide deals with visual impairment mainstream education in Scotland, we will focus on the different educational stages and the process that parents will be involved in. It will be presented in three separate sections:
ii) Primary school
iii) Secondary school
This will allow you to look at the area that is most relevant to you and your child.
i) Pre-school stage
If your child has been identified as having special educational needs at an early stage of development it is very likely that you will come into contact with various professionals at the pre-school stage. These may include Health professionals, such as GP's, Health Visitors, Community Paediatricians, Ophthalmologists (Eye Doctor), Orthoptists (specialists who work to improve vision) and Optometrists (Opticians). These professionals will provide information about your child's vision (and other disabilities if they are relevant) which will assist with the planning of support.
If required, a Home Teacher or Pre-5 Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) may visit your child to assess his functional vision and give advice on how to meet his special educational needs. The TVI will work with parents to develop a programme which can be used to aid child development. When your child is ready to start Nursery or Playgroup, the Pre-5 Teacher will give information and advice to those working with your child. One of the responsibilities of the Educational Psychologist is to assess the special educational needs of your child, to work closely with the Home Teacher and Nursery and to advise on an appropriate educational placement.
You may be invited along to a Pre-school Assessment Team (PRESCAT) meeting to discuss your child's future education. It will be attended by all those who are involved professionally with your child, and may include input from education, health and social services.
ii) Primary school stage
When it is time for your child to attend Primary school, you will not only come into contact with the Head Teacher and Classroom Teacher, but may also meet others who are responsible for your child's special educational needs. These may include;
- Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) - these are specially trained teachers who are aware of the very specific educational needs of visually impaired children. TVI's assess the functional vision of the pupil and work as part of a team that makes sure your child gets the support and equipment that will help overcome any difficulties caused by his visual loss. TVI's will provide advice to the school and classroom teacher and visit regularly to monitor progress.
- Learning Support Teacher - these teachers are able to dedicate additional time to your child's learning needs. They can reinforce class work; provide intensive teaching and allow your child to learn at his/her own pace.
- Special Needs Auxiliary - It may be that your child would benefit from the additional assistance of a Special Needs Auxiliary. They may work alongside your child in class and provide support at intervals and lunchtimes.
- Classroom Assistant - They are responsible for classroom duties that assist the class room teacher and that benefit the whole class. They may not be directly involved with your child on a one-to-one basis, but may assist your child with group work.
Children with additional special educational needs may also receive input from Teachers of the Hearing Impaired, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, etc. (Please be aware that level of services vary between establishments and this should be taken into account when looking at placement.)
Parental involvement will be in the form of attending Parents' Nights, Information Evenings, and attendance at regular Reviews if the child has a Record of Needs/Coordinated Support Plan. (see Section 6)
iii) Secondary school stage
Once your child is of secondary age, a considerable amount of preparation is required before he starts school. A mainstream secondary setting is usually a very large, spread out campus, which demands a greater level of movement by the visually impaired pupil. The strains of adolescence add to the complexity of school life and can result in a whole new set of challenges for the visually impaired young person.
Therefore, depending on the individual needs of your child, preparations may begin as early as the P6-7 stage. The Educational Psychologist and TVI will continue to assist in this transition, and initial contact and advice will be given to the receiving school. As well as the usual school staff you may encounter other people who will be of assistance to you and your child. These may include;
- Mobility Education Officers and Rehabilitation Workers who will help with mobility lessons, independence training and daily living skills.
- Special Needs Careers Advisers - who will direct your child towards their chosen career after school.
- Children with additional special educational needs may also receive input from Teachers of the Hearing Impaired, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, etc. (Please be aware that level of services vary between establishments and this should be taken into account when looking at placement)
Parental involvement will be in the form of attending Parents' Nights, Information Evenings, and attendance at regular Reviews if the child has a Record of Needs/Coordinated Support Plan (see Section 6).