The Blind Spot in Education Statements/Plans for Children with Special Educational Needs

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BackgroundChildren attending special education schools have a Statement of Educational Need (SEN) or Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The purpose of the SEN/EHCP is to identify the child’s educational, health and social needs and outline support required to meet these needs. This study aimed to evaluate the record of visual need in the SEN/EHCP against the presenting level of vision measured at an in-school vision assessment.MethodsTwo schools participated. All pupils of participating schools were invited to have a full in-school vision assessment. Parental permission was sought for the authors to view each child’s SEN. Presenting vision was defined as the child’s habitual level of vision, measured using tests appropriate for each child’s age and ability.ResultsTo-date, 104 children (aged 5-18 years) have participated. Learning difficulty within the group ranged from moderate to profound. Eleven children (10.6%) presented with a visual impairment as defined by WHO criteria (>0.50logMAR), of which five had information regarding their vision deficit recorded in the SEN/EHCP. Only one report described how this reduction in vision might impact on education or how the educational environment could be tailored to alleviate visual limitations.ConclusionsOver half the children in this study who were identified as having significantly reduced habitual vision did not have this information highlighted in their SEN/EHCP. If a child’s visual limitations are not communicated and recognised by schools, there is a danger that educational needs and potential may not be fully met.Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank the Department for the Economy and Action Medical research (GN2429) along with the Vision Translational Research Group NI HSC R&D for funding the project. Special thanks to staff, parents and pupils of Castle Tower and Roddensvale schools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 17 Oct 2017
EventChild Vision Research Society meeting - Ulster University, Coleraine
Duration: 17 Oct 2017 → …


ConferenceChild Vision Research Society meeting
Period17/10/17 → …


  • Vision
  • paediatric vision
  • special schools
  • vision testing
  • eye examination
  • in-school vision testing
  • statement of educational need


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