Critical role of Qualified Teacher of Children and young people and Young People with a Vision Impairment (QTVI)

What we think 

Children and young people with vision impairment face unique challenges to learning which can only be addressed by specialist knowledge and understanding. We maintain that blind and partially sighted children and young people and young people must receive specialist support from a qualified teacher of children and young people and young people with vision impairment (QTVI). QTVIs hold the mandatory qualification (MQ) in vision impairment, in addition to qualified teacher status. This applies to all children and young people regardless of age, setting or additional needs.

All children and young people with vision impairment will require specialist input to address crucial needs in their cognitive development, communication, social and independence skills. The level of this input will vary according to the severity of their vision impairment, the needs and skills of each individual child, the nature of their setting and other factors.  In all situations we maintain that the input must always include specialist assessment and support by a QTVI. Evidence shows that the QTVI is usually the key worker for a blind child, assessing their needs and co-ordinating the provision to address these.

What’s happening now 

QTVIs carry out a central role in the education of children and young people and young people with vision impairment from birth, working in homes, early years settings, schools and post 16 settings. 

While we are aware of much good practice in the deployment of QTVIs nationally, we also know that some schools and local authorities are looking for ways to reduce their specialist staffing in order to save money. This has led to unmanageable caseloads for QTVIs and a serious reduction in their input to individual children and young people. In some cases it has even led to attempts to re-designate QTVIs as advisors in order to avoid paying them as teachers. Additionally other key roles, e.g. HLTA, are being used in some places to carry out work which might have been done previously by a QTVI.

Such a focus on short term savings is at odds with the SEND Code of Practice, which emphasises the importance of specialist services: 

“Schools should work closely with the local authority and other providers to agree the range of local services and clear arrangements for making appropriate requests. This might include schools commissioning specialist services directly. Such specialist services include…. specialist teachers or support services, including specialist teachers with a mandatory qualification for children and young people with hearing and vision impairment, including multi-sensory impairment, and for those with a physical disability. (Those teaching classes of children and young people with sensory impairment must hold an appropriate qualification approved by the Secretary of State. Teachers working in an advisory role to support such pupils should also hold the appropriate qualification.)”

(Para 6.61, SEND Code of Practice, 2015) 

What should happen 

In order to protect the rights of children and young people with vision impairment to high quality education, we maintain that schools and local authorities should apply the following principles and practices:

  • All children and young people with vision impairment are assessed and supported accordingly by teachers employed as QTVIs, who hold (or are working towards) the mandatory qualification in vision impairment.
  • The caseloads of these teachers are managed in order that they are able to support these children and young people in line with their assessed needs.
  • QTVIs work directly with children and young people in a teaching capacity in specialist areas such as the acquisition of visual concepts and the development of literacy through braille, large print and/or technology. 
  • QTVIs support parents/carers in the home to support their child’s early development. 
  • QTVIs work closely with staff in nurseries, schools, or colleges to ensure that children and young people’s needs are met through training and joint planning to secure inclusive teaching and learning approaches.
  • QTVIs advise on and oversee the implementation of strategies to promote children and young people’s social inclusion.
  • QTVIs are involved in a planned approach over time to reducing adult support in favour of strategies which promote independent learning. This should not be confused with a withdrawal of support and will need regular monitoring.
  • QTVIs maintain close contact with families as a source of ongoing advice and to make sure that expectations and approaches are consistent between home and school.

What RNIB is doing

RNIB continues to work with partner organisations to campaign for better support for children and young people and young people with vision impairment, so they can reach their full potential in adult life. Many of our policy priorities are reflected in the VI curriculum project which seeks to define, unify and embed best practice support for children and young people with VI.”

Presentations

Contact

RNIB Policy and Campaigns on 0207 391 2123 or campaigns@rnib.org.uk