Mandatory training Q&A

There are 3 UK providers of the QTVI qualification – Birmingham University, St Vincent’s School Liverpool, a Specialist School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs, which collaborates with John Moores University.

The University of Edinburgh runs a Postgraduate Diploma in Inclusive Education (Visually Impaired Learners). 


In 2015 the government’s National College for Teaching and Leadership published a new specification for mandatory training for teachers wishing to become qualified teachers of children with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or multisensory impairment (MSI).

Teachers employed to teach classes of children and young people with a sensory impairment who do not already hold an appropriate MQ are required to gain the qualification within their first three years in post. While the MQ is not mandatory for all advisory teachers, the specification clearly states that:

“qualified teachers in support and advisory roles, and those working with children and young people who have VI in home, early years and post-16 settings, are also strongly advised to complete MQ training, in the best interest of the children and young people with whom they work.”

What can heads of service expect of newly qualified teachers of children with vision impairment?

The expected minimum outcomes are set out in full in Annex A of the MQ Specification. QTVIs are expected to have knowledge and skills across 8 areas:

  1. Professional qualities and attributes
  2. The current legislative and educational framework
  3. Vision and vision impairment
  4. Teaching and learning
  5. The specialist curriculum
  6. Social, emotional development and well-being
  7. Supporting transition and transfer
  8. Partnership working

Taken all together the 10-page list of minimum outcomes leaves no one in any doubt about the breadth of knowledge and range of skills required to be a QTVI.

What else are QTVIs expected to know?

It goes without saying that QTVIs are required to have excellent knowledge of vision impairment, its assessment, impact and strategies for accessing learning, achieving and becoming as independent learners as possible.

But it is no mean feat for an individual to demonstrate in addition to expert knowledge of vision impairment:

  • understanding of the different curriculums used from early years to learners aged up to 25
  • up to date knowledge of policies, assessment processes and target setting mechanisms used in every setting and transitions between them
  • skills to liaise with, influence, advise and interpret information from colleagues across the education, health and care sectors
  • ability to relate and work well with children and young people aged up to 25
  • cultural awareness and skills to establish positive consultative relationships with families
  • keep up to date with technology and research
  • constantly evaluate the use and effectiveness of interventions, respond positively to feedback and ensure that their work is evidence based.

Be proud of our broad range of specialist skills

Exhausted yet? Let’s not forget:

  • be proficient in braille and teaching it
  • understand the social and emotional impact of vision impairment
  • appreciate the impact of delayed communication skills
  • adapt teaching and learning materials
  • devise programmes with habilitation workers to include independent wheelchair mobility.

That’s a lot of hats. Worth remembering and feeling justifiably proud of our skills if ever decision makers are wondering if a specialist vision impairment team is “really justified in the current economic climate.”

Does the new MQ have implications for professional development of existing QTVIs?

The MQ outcomes provide an important reference point for the ongoing professional development of all QTVIs, not just those who are in training. The outcomes involve such a breadth and depth of skill, knowledge and understanding that nobody could become an expert in all of them just by studying a two year part-time course.  Also the pace of change in the wider world of health and education is relentless and QTVIs need to keep up to date by revisiting the outcomes on a regular basis.

What funding is available for teachers who would like to train as a QTVI?

While individuals can fund their own training few choose to do so. Most teachers’ tuition fees are paid for by the authority they work for. The expectation is that teachers joining a vision impairment service should gain the MQ within three years of starting their role.

What placements will trainee TVIs be expected to do?

An assessed teaching placement is a requirement and ideally this should be at a different place of to the students’ usual place of work. The Birmingham course also offers a structured programme of visits to ensure that students gain some insight into different teaching settings.

What resources are there for teachers who are thinking about becoming a QTVI to explore?

Birmingham University has a number of short videos explaining what it is like to train to become a QTVI.