Students: Visual Impairment

Department for Education written question – answered am ar 8 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Holmes of Richmond Lord Holmes of Richmond Ceidwadwyr

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the educational attainment gap for blind and visually impaired students at (1) Key Stage 2, (2) GCSE, and (3) A Level; by what date, if any, they aim to eradicate that gap; and what additional research have they undertaken, or do they intend to undertake, to support work in this area.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

Data is collected on pupils receiving either special educational needs support or have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and their primary category of need. The links below provide the attainment of pupils assessed as having a primary need of ‘visual impairment’ and how this compares to other pupils:

  • Key stage 2: data for the 2022/23 year is in the table atttached.
  • Key stage 4: data for the 2022/23 year is in the table attached.
  • A level: data for the 2022/23 year is in the table attached.

The department wants all children and young people to be able to reach their full potential and to receive the right support to succeed in their education and as they move into adult life. The department is creating a new single national special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision system for how needs are identified and met across EHC. This new single national system will set standards on what support should be made available in mainstream settings, including for children with visual impairments.

The department is committed to ensuring a steady supply of teachers of children with sensory impairments in both specialist and mainstream settings. To teach a class of pupils with sensory impairments, a teacher is required to hold the relevant mandatory qualification (MQSI). There are currently six providers of the MQSI, with a seventh available from September 2024. In addition, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is developing a new occupational standard for teachers of sensory impairment, which is expected to launch in 2025.

The national curriculum tests are designed and modified to ensure they are accessible to visually impaired pupils. Access arrangements can be agreed with exam boards before an assessment for candidates with specific needs, including SEND, to help them access assessments to show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment. The intention behind an access arrangement is to meet the needs of an individual candidate without affecting the integrity of the assessment.

Children and young people with SEND have more access to assistive technology (AT) following investment in remote education and accessibility features which can reduce or remove barriers to learning. Following the promising results of a pilot training programme in 2022 to increase mainstream school staff confidence using assistive technology, the government extended training to capture more detailed data on the impact on teachers and learners. The independent evaluation will be published in May 2024. The department is also now researching the AT skills required by staff at special schools, including those working with blind and visually impaired students.

KS2_attainment_table (xlsx, 14.3KB)

KS4_attainment_table (xlsx, 11.0KB)

ALevel_attainment_table (xlsx, 9.5KB)

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