Perspectives of primary school staff who work with children with additional needs: insights that may help to improve support for visually impaired children

Anna S Pease, Trudy A Goodenough, Sue Rogers, Joao Roe, Cathy E M Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Educational support for children with visual impairments (VIs) at school relies on effective information-sharing between hospital eye services and schools. There may be delays in this process which impede school staff’s efforts to help affected children. As part of a programme of work aiming to improve outcomes for children with cerebral visual impairments (CVIs), this study carried out qualitative interviews to understand the views of primary school staff about receiving and using external specialist advice in general. These data can be used to inform and improve information-sharing aimed at supporting children in primary school who have VI.
Views of primary school teachers and staff with responsibility for supporting children with additional needs were elicited in nine interviews, across three mainstream primary school settings in Gloucestershire, UK. Interviews were carried out in October 2017. Participants were asked about their experiences of working with children with additional needs and engaging with outside specialist providers. Thematic analysis was used to look for patterns in the data.
Interviews revealed four major themes: understanding the condition (including training, individual differences, and understanding the aim of the strategy); translating reports into action (including adaptations to recommendations, team working, and communication formats); follow-up (including feedback and measuring progress); and barriers and opportunities for accessing support (including systematic barriers, going private, and ideal scenarios).
This small study provides insights into how teachers and school staff perceive the relationship with external specialists. Services for children with VI in primary schools may be enhanced if they provide information about the impact of VI; about the underlying conditions if known, training and awareness activities for staff and offer a route for follow-up or enquiries. These insights can be used to inform service design and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Journal British Journal of Visual Impairment
Early online date4 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Aug 2020


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