Information on the Torbay visual impairment service
Torbay Visual Impairment (VI) Service has been developed to provide specialist support and advice to all Torbay’s Local Authority early years settings and schools, including special schools and provisions. The service supports the inclusion of pupils with visual impairments in all these settings.
The referrals are managed by the Local Authority Torbay SEND team and are sent to the VI Advisory Teacher. Pupils can also be referred directly to the VI Advisory Teacher by the ophthalmology department at Torbay Hospital. As necessary, this will be followed by a visit from the VI Advisory Teacher.
The Service is, at present, staffed by one part-time advisory teacher. This teacher is an experienced teacher with an additional degree in working with children and young people with VI. This includes a qualification in Grade Two Braille and knowledge and experience of access technology that supports the learning of both modified large print (MLP) users and Braillists in their setting.
The VI Service provides support for any pupil who lives in Torbay or is at school in a local authority Torbay School and has a confirmed diagnosis of a VI. The Service works with these pupils regardless of whether they have an Education Health & Care Plan (EHCP).
The VI Advisory Teacher will contact the school or pre-school to arrange a preliminary meeting with either the SENDCO or the class teacher. Once permission has been gained from the parent/guardian the VI Advisory Teacher will arrange a time to see the pupil in school if deemed appropriate. Referrals should include written parental consent. Parents are welcome to attend the school to meet with the VI Advisory Teacher if they would like to. The VI Advisory Teacher also works collaboratively with a variety of services such as the educational psychologists, portage & the hearing support service and if a joint visit is appropriate that may be carried out at this stage or later in the process.
During the initial or subsequent visits the VI Advisory Teacher may observe during a lesson or 1:1 session, talk to the pupil outside the classroom, meet with the class teacher and/or SENDCO and/or TA and/or Head Teacher, carry out a Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) or observe during breaktime or lunch time.
Following the visit, a report will be written in which there will be advice for the school (and the pupil if appropriate) and a recommendation for the next visit and the frequency of subsequent visits. Input from the VI Advisory Teacher will vary depending on the need of the pupil at the time. The frequency with which individual pupils are visited is determined by their need.
The VI Advisory Teacher works closely with Torbay Hospital Ophthalmology Department, the Habilitation Team, parents, teachers and pupils in all settings. Advice and guidance on a range of VI issues appropriate to a pupil’s age and needs are offered to professionals, parents and pupils. This advice may cover classroom practice, technology, reprographics support and advice, training in support best practice, VI awareness training for staff and pupils and Braille teaching & support. Annual EHCP reviews will be attended either virtually or in person where it is helpful & practical to do so.