Partners in Learning – Advanced Certificate for vision impairment education support staff

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Date(s) - 05/09/2023
12:00 am

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For most children vision is the most important channel for communication and understanding, so learning with little or no sight presents significant challenges to established ways of teaching. As a teacher, teaching assistant, support worker or early years practitioner, you fulfil a crucial role in understanding and meeting the needs of a blind or partially sighted learner in your setting.

The next available course will begin in September 2023.

Apply for the 2023 course from here – download and complete the following application form:

Partners in Learning course can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide a high level of education for the learners with whom you work.

Partners in Learning is an in depth training course for teaching assistants and other education professionals working with learners with vision impairment from 0-25. It was originally developed by RNIB and the Open University before being taken over by VIEW in 2015. The course is studied and assessed online over 12 months with two face to face training days. Around 1000 education professionals have studied the course since it was first launched in 2005 and it is the only nationally available course of its kind in the UK.

Partners in Learning was accredited as a BTEC advanced certificate at level 3 until 2018,  when BTEC rules changed to require a minimum of 100 learners per year. Because vision impairment is a low incidence special educational need we are unable to recruit such large numbers and have therefore had to relinquish our BTEC status. However, the course itself remains unchanged in its range and depth of content. It continues to receive very positive feedback from students and their employers. In recognition of its excellence, several local authorities have made Partners in Learning a mandatory qualification for teaching assistants employed in their visual impairment support services.

Key features of the course:

  • Developed between RNIB and the Open University (equivalent to Level 3 study).
  • Uses online study and discussion activities with tutor support.
  • Includes two training days to spend time with your tutors and student group (delivered by Zoom).
  • Consists of six units studied over 12 months  (as part of a group so plenty of contact with others).
  • Begins: September 2023- introductory training day will be held by Zoom.
  • Cost: £850 (£710 VIEW members)

What does the course cover?

Partners in Learning seeks to challenge you to consider your current practice, share and develop this with others in the field, and apply your new understanding to your working situation. You are asked to actively use your learning in a variety of practical ways and to implement your developing knowledge of best practice with colleagues and learners in your own setting.

Learning Outcomes

The Partners in Learning course will allow you to:
•    understand visual impairment and its implications for educational and social development
•    learn a range of skills and techniques to support learners and promote their independence both in and out of the classroom
•    develop an understanding of team work and its importance in effective practice.
develop a positive working relationship with learners which promotes their independence and engages them in planning and decision making.

How is the course delivered?

Partners in Learning is studied over a calendar year. The course is delivered online. The course runs over three terms and is divided into six units, each estimated to involve around 30 hours of study. The units include:
•    provision, roles and responsibilities
•    vision and visual impairment
•    effective practice
•    curriculum access
•    communication skills in a learning environment
•    independence and social inclusion.


Assessment is via regular assignments, online discussions and factual tests. Each unit includes the following elements:
•    online self study activities assessed by an online multiple choice test
•    online group discussion activities which enable you to engage and share your learning with other students
•    short written assignments encouraging you to apply your learning from the unit to your own situation.

What are the benefits?

Benefits of the blended learning course include:
•    leads to an advanced certificate from VIEW
•    flexible online access
•    detailed timetable of activities
•    extensive course materials set out over six units
•    varied approach to learning and assessment
•    frequent online discussions with fellow students
•    regular online contact with experienced tutor
•    online training days involving no travel

Partners In Learning does not meet the requirements of the mandatory qualification for teachers of children with visual impairment.

Who is the course for?

The course is suitable for any education professional that works with blind or partially sighted children and young people, including teachers, teaching assistants, support workers and early years practitioners.

Entry requirements

You should be able to provide evidence of the following:
•    education to GCSE standard, NVQ Level 2 or equivalent experience or qualifications
•    working on a regular basis with one or more children or young people with visual impairment for the duration of the course
•    regular access to broadband internet and email facilities
•    employer support for the period of your training.

When can I start the course?

The next available course will begin in September 2023.

Feedback from the field

The content of the course is detailed and relevant as well as offering access to further information should I wish to research something further, particularly if it is applicable to the children that I currently support. I feel that a key benefit of the course is that it allows me to understand the theory behind the provision for children with VI. This helps me to ensure a consistent high level of support for children in mainstream, when a QTVI is not on site, because I more thoroughly understand the intended outcomes of the specialist input. Although I have supported children with VI for a while, I feel that I have been given some new ideas through discussions with others working within other Local Authorities. The course has offered me a challenge and I feel that it has been worthwhile to improve my professional practice.

Kirsty Rimmington
Senior Specialist Learning Support Officer
South Parade Primary School

“The course has provided an experienced teaching assistant with a very interesting focus and a high level of challenge. At school, we have been able to use her expertise to make significant changes in our provision for several pupils. This has involved making and adapting teaching resources and approaches and thinking creatively about the learning environment for pupils with visual impairment. The course is clearly very practical and motivating. A further ‘spin off’ of is that many of the newly acquired skills and knowledge have been shared in a very positive way with other teaching and support staff.”

Jane Booth
Ash Field School in Leicester

“This was a very high quality course, every task is relevant, every part of it worthwhile.”

“I have benefited greatly from this course. I felt that I have not only re-affirmed what I am doing as Curriculum Access Specialist is correct, but also learnt so much more through the self-learning and discussions with others. I found the content of the course valuable and through all the links provided I can carry on with my own research and look into other aspects to which I am drawn.”

“I just wanted to say a personal ‘Thank You’ for such a great course! I have learnt so much and definitely know that doing PIL will help me to improve my working practice. I am actually a bit gutted it has finished!”

“The course was brilliant, I would certainly recommend anyone working with VI children that get the chance to do the course to do so. I will miss it. Thank you all for putting so much into it for us.”

“I found this excellent course motivating and thought provoking, thank you all for all the support and encouragement, I hope it makes me far more sensitive and effective supporting the visually impaired students I work with.”