Government urged to recognise Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment

Leading charities and vision impairment organisations are calling for the curriculum to be recognised as part of an improvement plan for special educational needs and disability policies in England

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The Government must utilise the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) within special educational needs and disability (SEND) policies and practices, according to the UK’s leading visual impairment organisations.

The call comes from 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, and the Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).

The CFVI supports visually impaired people up to the age of 25 with access to appropriate and equitable education.

It should be embedded in recognised in SEND policies in England, adopted within all education settings supporting children and young people with vision impairment and their families, and embedded in local authority offers, service commissioning and delivery frameworks, the group said.

Dr Rachel Hewett, co-director of VICTAR at the University of Birmingham, said: “It is a legal requirement for all young people up to the age of 18 to remain in education, and therefore the support must be available across all education settings, from nursery to further education.”

The call came on 15 June, as a CFVI report was launched at the University of Birmingham.

If the CFVI was formally recognised, it would see children and young people being taught a range of independent learning, mobility, everyday living, and social communication skills, the report said.

Currently, access to this form of learning and to teaching specialists varies regionally.
The CFVI report also details how this lack of equitable support can affect attainment and future employment for those with visual impairments.

It also asked that the CFVI is embedded within quality standards for teachers of children and young people with vision impairment across the UK.

A ‘significant proportion’ of the new national standards for SEND are due to be published by the end of 2025.

The plans include investment of £2.6 billion in new places within education and healthcare, and improved existing provision for children and young people with SEND or those who require alternative provision

Tara Chattaway, head of education at TPT, 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 who are struggling to access their learning. This impacts their wellbeing and means that they are left behind their peers when entering adulthood and employment.”

Caireen Sutherland, head of education and children, young people and families at the RNIB, emphasised that “inequities in education provision and support available for children and young people with visual impairment cannot continue.”

“The CFVI is grounded in both research and practice, [and] it provides the evidence base on how best to support children and young people with visual impairment,” Sutherland said. “This makes the CFVI well placed to be an integral part of the new National Standards.”

Chattaway added: “We believe that the Government embedding the framework into new SEND policy will mean students have the chance to be put on an even playing field.”

The CFVI report is available on the RNIB website. The campaign on social media is using the hashtag #UnlockEducation.