Families across England have united to fight Government cuts that could affect the futures of children with vision impairment. The Young Vision Alliance, made up of parents, young people with vision impairment, and supporting organisations, aims to ensure all children receive an equal standard of education – regardless of their sight.
A new report by the Young Vision Alliance entitled ‘See our Potential’ has found that Government cuts to local authority budgets are having a knock-on impact, leaving hundreds of children with vision impairment without support.
The report shows that nearly one in every three (29 per cent) local authorities that responded have cut their spending on education support services for children and young people with vision impairment in the last year alone. A third (36 per cent) also reported a decrease in the number of Qualified Teachers of Vision Impairment (QVTI), who are central to making mainstream education accessible for vision impaired children and young people.
Worryingly it found that half of the children surveyed said that they felt left out of school trips, and half felt excluded from extracurricular activities, such as sports or drama.
In addition, nearly half (47 per cent) of parents surveyed said they had to challenge poor provision from their child’s school or college, with 58 per cent saying that their child had been forced to miss at least one lesson in the last two years because of insufficient support.
Laura Eccott, parent of 10 year-old Jorja and member of the Young Vision Alliance, said:
“Learning in schools and colleges is focused heavily on the ability to see – relying on the pupil to read from textbooks, see writing on whiteboards and answer questions from written exam papers. But when a child can’t see these things and is not given the appropriate materials or support he or she needs to access learning, they are destined to fail.”
“My daughter Jorja has limitations placed upon her that simply don’t need to be there. Small things not done create big problems. Often it just takes a little bit of change for Jorja to be able to completely access her education.”
“Like all parents, I want the best for my daughter – so she can reach her full potential and achieve her ambitions. Jorja wants to become an astrophysicist or a vet – and she is capable of doing this. Despite their sight problems, our children have the capacity to achieve great things. They just need the appropriate support from the Government, local authority and school to ensure that they can succeed.”
Tara Chattaway, Young Vision Alliance Policy Spokesperson, said:
“’See Our Potential’, sets out clear and compelling evidence as to how children and young people with vision impairment are being failed. It is not acceptable that they and their families are having to fight to get access to a decent education, something that should be available to all.
We are calling on the Government to take urgent action now, so that these children can have the best possible opportunity to learn and achieve their ambitions”.
Current figures show that young people with vision impairment are far less likely to be in employment, education or training as those who are sighted . Without urgent change, the outcomes for these children will only worsen.
The Alliance has set out a number of recommendations for the Government to action, including vision impairment training for teaching staff, equal access to exams, sufficient funding for QTVIs, SEND support and habilitation workers for young people with vision impairment at all stages of education.
About The Young Vision Alliance
The Young Vision Alliance is made up of: parents, young people with vision impairment, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Guide Dogs, Habiliation VI UK, Moorvision, Nystagmus Network, RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), Royal National College for the Blind, Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC), VICTA, Vision Impairment Education Workforce (VIEW) and Vision UK.