Learning to Access

Why we need a new UK specialist curriculum to enable equitable participation in education for children and young people with vision impairment

VIEW discussion paper

The aim of this paper is to start a discussion about the need for a national, UK specialist curriculum for vision impairment (VI) education that addresses the development and learning needs associated with blindness and partial sight and reflects the distinctive skills required by learners with VI.

The importance of a specialist curriculum is supported by the vision impairment education literature, and access to it should be seen as a right and entitlement for all children and young people with VI. However, it is evident that the current approach to educational provision for children and young people with VI is not working. In essence, children and young people with VI are being let down by an education system which fails to understand and prioritise their true needs.

The situation is not helped by the fact that there are several specialist curricula and outcomes frameworks for children and young people with VI being used in the UK, none of which has any statutory status. Having a range of curricula and outcomes frameworks can lead to a lack of clarity about what should be taught, when and by whom.

Given the widening differences in education policy and terminology relating to special education and disability across the UK, having a unifying framework that enables a consistent approach to the education of children and young people with VI is particularly important.

It is proposed that the new UK curriculum should have a clear conceptual framework based on the concept of ‘access to learning/learning to access’ (McLinden, Douglas, Cobb, Hewett and Ravenscroft, 2016) and an agreed set of outcomes and approach to intervention that guides professional practice in teaching and habilitation from early years through to higher education and/or vocational training.

Download the paper and appendix

Next Steps

We are hoping to work in partnership with VICTAR, university of Birmingham and voluntary sector organisations on a joint project to submit a bid for funding with the aims of:

  • Agreeing a single, unifying framework
  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of VI professionals and non-VI education providers and staff
  • Operationalising the specialist VI curriculum

How you can help

If you are interested in taking part in this project, and / or have developed resources or strategies in your service or school to deliver elements of the specialist VI curriculum (or the expanded core curriculum), please contact: suekeil.view@gmail.com or development@viewweb.org.uk

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