VIEW’s Frequently Asked Questions

What are the numbers of children and young people with vision impairment in the UK?

According to RNIB there are around 360,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK. “There are almost 25,000 blind and partially sighted children in Britain. That is equal to 2 in 1,000 children. As many as half of these children may have other disabilities.” (Morris and Smith, Educational Provision, 2008)

RNIB Sight Loss data tool provides information about blind and partially sighted people and those at risk of sight loss at a local level throughout the UK.

What are the main causes of sight loss in children?

The causes of visual impairment in children in the UK are numerous, complex and often part of a wider picture of childhood disability (Bodeau-Livinec et al, 2007). The three most common causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children are cerebral visual impairment, disorders of the optic nerve, and disorders of the retina (Rahi and Cable, 2003).

Read more about epidemiology of vision impairment in children in UK.

I am a Qualified Teacher of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVI). Why should I join VIEW?

VIEW is the sole professional association for QTVIs and other professionals supporting children and young people with vision impairment in education. VIEW provides a voice for the profession with Government including the DfES and a variety of other agencies including voluntary sector organisations such as RNIB. VIEW is involved in a wide range of activities designed to support its members and promote excellence in the education of children and young people with vision impairment.

Apart from representing the profession in a range of contexts and responding to enquiries from QTVIs and other education professionals, VIEW produces materials, resources and publications, all available on the website, and holds an annual conference/ professional development event, which is the largest event of its kind in the UK.  There are a variety of other benefits of VIEW membership.

The VIEW website is increasingly becoming the first stop for many people within the profession and beyond – the Situations Vacant section and the News and are frequently visited and keep the profession up to date with what VIEW is doing and what is happening in the wider world of the education of children and young people with vision impairment.

VIEW has also undertaken work for DfE, such as collecting up to date details of all QTVIs presently practising in England and Wales. VIEW is a ‘not for profit’ organisation and membership fees fund the great majority of the work so that the more professionals belong to VIEW the more work can be done on their behalf. Supporting VIEW means supporting yourself as well as your colleagues.

When VIEW speaks, it speaks with the voice of the QTVIs throughout the UK – approximately half are members (membership is for individuals only – we do not have institutional membership) and we are working tirelessly to recruit more of the profession to membership. It is essential that we represent the whole profession and to be able to do so it is vital that individual QTVIs join and participate.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the communications and development officer, Sarah Raisanen, at development@viewweb.org.uk

My Local Authority is trying to move me on to the Soulbury Scale. What should I do?

Some members have expressed concern about their Local Authority’s intention to move them on to the Soulbury scale and away from Teachers’ Pay and Conditions.

Two teacher organisations/unions, the NUT and PAT, have clearly stated that it is their view that if a teacher is carrying out any of the duties of a teacher for any part of the week – as opposed to offering advice without directly teaching children – then it is not lawful to force the change. The fact that this teaching may not be full-time is not relevant.

Colleagues can of course agree to such a change but need to be aware that there are considerable implications for retirement age, pension, hours of work, holiday entitlement and other aspects of pay and conditions which they should explore. As in all such cases we encourage members to belong to and consult a national trade union or professional body for teachers.

Can VIEW represent me in disputes with my employers?

VIEW is the professional association for all of those teaching and supporting children and young people with vision impairment. VIEW is committed to working hard to improve outcomes for all children and young people with vision impairment; to support and maintain standards and to ensure that we have representation on national forums such as NatSIP, Vision UK 2020 and take an active part in any DFE consultations or developments that could impact upon outcomes.

However, VIEW is not a disciplinary body and neither is it a trade union, therefore VIEW cannot deal with complaints about practice and/or pay and conditions. In any such cases please seek the advice of your union.

Please can you help me with my dissertation?

Students, teachers and other professionals approach VIEW asking for help with a variety of academic research and other assignments.
Here are some suggestions as to where you might find the answers to many of these enquiries:

Please let us know about any other publications which have proved especially useful.

What is the role of a QTVI?

The role of the local authority specialist qualified teacher for children and young people with vision impairment (QTVI) is extremely varied.
For details, read the VIEW/RNIB factsheet The Role of a QTVI.

What is the role of the QTVI in early support

As detailed in The Role of a QTVI, the QTVI provides support in a range of settings including support for babies and young children and their parents/carers in the family home. Appendix B is the UK Vision Strategy document on developing a JSNA. It states, in its section on children and young people (page 19) that:

“A prompt referral should be made to a local authority specialist vision impairment education advisory service. Support can then be provided by a qualified teacher of children with vision impairment (QTVI).”

Most children are born with their vision impairment, which can seriously disrupt infant and early development and learning with delay in reaching early milestones. Young children with profound vision impairment / who are blind are at particularly high risk of ‘developmental setback’, with ‘plateauing’ or loss of cognitive and language skills and increasing disorder of social communication skills. Some young children are at risk of following an autistic spectrum developmental pathway. Early intervention that includes support from a suitably qualified practitioner with specialist skills, knowledge and understanding of childhood vision impairment is essential. The QTVI is usually the lead professional in early support, working with parents and carers to support the early care, development and learning of their child.

An important resource is the Early Support Developmental Journal for Babies and Children with Visual Impairment which was created by the Developmental Vision team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. As stated on the National Children’s Bureau (NBC) website, which now hosts the developmental journals:

“The Early Support Developmental Journals are designed to help families, teachers and other practitioners better support development especially where children or young people have special educational needs and disabilities.”

How can I train as a Qualified Teacher of Vision Impaired (QTVI)?

This is certainly one of the most Frequently Asked Questions!

At present there is one course provider for this qualification: University of Birmingham, School of Education
Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment MEd/BPhil/Postgraduate Diploma

This two-year distance education programme is open to teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or equivalent, seeking the Mandatory Qualification (MQ) for specialist teachers of children with visual impairment. An alternative programme (Education of Children with Visual Impairment) is also open to teachers (as well as other professionals with appropriate qualifications) working with children and young people with visual impairment who are not seeking the MQ

Type of Course: Continuing professional development, distance learning
Duration: MEd: 3 years; PGDip: 2 years; BPhil; 2 years
Start date: September
Contact
Professor Mike McLinden
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4837
Email: m.t.mclinden@bham.ac.uk

A key point which you need to remember is that in order to train as a QTVI you must have Qualified Teacher Status. We do not offer specific advice on this as there are often many personal circumstances to be taken into account. Therefore you need to visit the TTA website to find out more.

What career opportunities are there for working with children and young people with vision impairment, but not as a QTVI?

VIEW’s membership is mainly QTVIs. However, we welcome other professionals and there are other careers involving working with CYP with VI with opportunities for professional development and training.

These are:
Habilitation Officer/Mobility Officer for children with vision impairment:
Details of Habilitation Professional Training Courses

Specialist Nursery Nurse or Teacher Assistant.

Details of training courses for specialist nursery nurses and teaching assistants:
RNIB Partners in Learning course. Online learning.

Are there any standards to which professionals working in education should adhere to?

Read the wide range of Quality Standards for the profession – Guidelines and Quality Standards in education – RNIB (Word, 185KB)

Why does a VI service need to be managed by an education specialist with knowledge of childhood vision impairment?

In VIEW’s opinion, management of the VI service needs both a teaching and a vision impairment background. The implications of having a service manager without appropriate teaching and VI qualifications are detailed below.

1. Reduced capacity for specialist QTVI support
Heads of VI services frequently carry a caseload so to replace a QTVI with a person without an appropriate specialist teaching qualification may lead to a reduced capacity for support. Reduced capacity is also likely to have an impact on provision of in-service training (INSET) for schools, which is important if schools are to take ownership of and an inclusive approach towards pupils with VI.

2. Caseloads
Caseload management requires an understanding of the role of the QTVI, the skills required for a particular intervention and the time needed. Without a specialist lead:
a) Who will take responsibility for caseload allocation?
b) What criteria/tools will the manager use to allocate caseloads?

For an example of a caseload management tool, see the VIEW/RNIB Caseload Management Tool and its associated spreadsheet.

3. Professional development and appraisal
How would a person without the MQ – or even qualified teacher status – provide support for professional development and carry out an appraisal? A Local Authority may like to give consideration to the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012. In the introduction to its guidelines ‘Teacher appraisal and capability: a model policy for schools’ (2012, p3) DfE states that:

“Schools and local authorities must have an appraisal policy for teachers and a policy, covering all staff, which deals with lack of capability. This model policy…has been written in the context of schools, but the same principles apply to unattached teachers.”

Other considerations in relation to managers without a teaching qualification are:
a) How would they be able to advise on issues that are specific to education such as strategies for teaching braille?
b) How could they advise on issues specific to schools, that require an understanding of educational practice and school culture?

References

Document first published October 2014