Specialist Centre for the Visually Impaired

Oxted School has had a Specialist Centre for the Visually Impaired since 1988.  The current Specialist Centre for the Visually Impaired is housed on the ground floor of the Meridian Building and comprises a suite of several small teaching and equipment rooms and two offices.

The main body of the department is fitted with the resources, technology and specialist equipment which enables the VI Team to adapt all the resources for the students we support. The level of adaptation will depend on whether the resources are required in large print, or in a tactile version, such as braille.

The Specialist Centre supports both blind and visually impaired students and is one of five such bases in Surrey – three in secondary schools and two in primary. It can currently accommodate up to twelve students. All students will have an Education, Health and Care Plan which details Visual Impairment as their primary need.

Some students come from bordering authorities such as Croydon, Bromley, Sutton or Kent. The students are fully included in mainstream lessons and are withdrawn from some lessons to focus on specific skills such as mobility, life skills or Braille Maths.

The School encourages positive inclusion of all students with a Visual Impairment in all aspects of school life. VI students have taken part in School productions, become members of the School Council and have joined school trips to Europe, the USA, Year 8 camp, and recently to Costa Rica. Students participate in school clubs and inter-house activities which have included rock climbing and rugby. Many of our students have gained Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards. Recently on of our students represented England in the VI cricket series against India. In addition, students have benefitted from specialist visits and trips for the wider VI community and have been invited to talks from “Blind in Business”, and “Guide Dogs”, and been on touch tours to London shows such as Memphis and The Railway Children. The department runs a Strawberry Tea each year for former, current and future students.

Students make good progress at Oxted School and many stay on into sixth form where they study AS and A2. Recent students have progressed to Cambridge, Universities in Birmingham, Exeter and Chichester, and Performing Arts Colleges.

The whole school community benefits from having a specialist centre on site. New staff and NQTs are offered training in working with VI students and new tutor groups are offered peer awareness. The department also contributes to articles in the School newsletter and gives talks in assemblies. An ethos of positive inclusion is embedded within the school and the school site is specially adapted to accommodate its community of Visually Impaired students.


"The Head of Centre is passionate about providing facilities and provision that will support student with a visual impairment so that they can learn successfully alongside their peers.  She is supported fully b a committed team of TAs..."

JMV Monitoring Visit, Autumn 2017


"...Pupils increase their independence and are well prepared for the future"

"The learning, quality of work and progress of pupils shows that they achieve exceptionally well over time"

PSSS Joint Monitoring Visit, October 2017




“… the Centre excels at developing independence in their students. There is a real focus on ensuring that students are not only successful in their current setting but ensuring that they have the skills, knowledge, ability and resilience to be successful beyond school”

PSSS Joint Monitoring Visit,  December 2015


“An impressive example of resourced provision”

PSSS joint monitoring visit, November 2014

Oxted School was part of this year’s BBC School Report, which took place on Thursday 16 March 2017. 

The School Report will be delivered by members of our school newspaper team, ‘The Acorn’, together with students from our Visually Impaired centre. Mr Baker, Mrs Seymour, Mrs Leech, Ms Power, and Miss Stephen are all involved in coaching our students, and preparing them for the big day.

To listen to the day's events please click here


Specialist Centres/PRUs Example Response to the 14 Questions


School Response

School Self-Evaluation




RAG Rating


How does the school know if students with vision impairment (VI) need extra help and what would parents/cares do if they think their children have additional needs?

  • Students attending the Specialist Centre have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which identifies this setting as the most appropriate mainstream provision for the student. It also identifies the student’s primary need as VI and, where appropriate, any additional needs
  • The annual review of the EHC plan ensures that this document reflects the student’s current needs
  • The Specialist Centre will receive information about the student’s needs from their previous setting and we will undertake a functional vision assessment to ensure the printed curriculum is modified or adapted appropriately and that they receive the right interventions to enable them to make progress
  • The progress of students is monitored regularly by their subject teachers, Heads of Year, form tutor and the Head of Centre so that when a student is not making expected progress in a particular area they can identify the need for additional support. This is then discussed with their parents/carers at individual student progress meetings, the Annual Review and, when appropriate, the student
  • If students seem to have an emerging or additional need this may necessitate requesting additional assessments carried out by other professionals
  • Students with a Visual Impairment without an EHCP are keyworked by VI staff and included in VI activities



How does the Specialist Centre support students with VI?

  • Every student starting at our Centre has an EHC Plan. This document outlines their particular needs and recommends the resources, teaching programmes and multi-agency involvement related to meeting these needs. Implementation is overseen by the Head of Centre
  • Each student’s provision list /timetable reflects where support is targeted (whether in-class, through modification and adaptation of resources or a combination of both) which parts of the additional curriculum they are receiving and where independent working is appropriate and required
  • The Head of Centre has regular contact with each student and monitors progress and oversees provision
  • Support, whether in-class or via modification and adaptation of materials and resources, comes from staff with a range of expertise and experience. Staff work alongside or on behalf of a number of students who are keen to develop their independence
  • All students have access to a range of technology, according to identified need. Students with useful vision may use a laptop, or a camera, and a range of magnifiers. Braillists may use laptops with a visual display or electronic braillers
  • The SEN Governor has responsibility for students with VI and liaison takes place between him/her and the Head of Centre



How is the curriculum matched to students with VI?

  • Students have access to a mainstream curriculum which is personalised to meet their needs and their learning is differentiated, modified and adapted to enable them to access the curriculum and make progress. Students have access to all of part of the additional curriculum (this includes mobility training, independent living skills, touchtyping, access technology; social skills, life skills and braille tuition)
  • The level of support, reviewed frequently according to progress made and their developing independence, depends on students’ needs and takes the form of Curriculum Support. Work is adapted by specialist TAs. However, students spend most of their time with fully sighted peers in the classroom
  • Students are expected to complete the same homework as their peers. We offer a  homework club after school for our SEN students



How do the Specialist Centre and parents/carers know how students with VI are doing and how does it help them support their children’s learning?

  • We offer an open door policy and if at any point parents/carers wish to discuss student’s progress, an appointment can be made to meet with the class teacher / tutor / subject teacher or the Head of Centre. Emails are also welcome
  • All students have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) / provision map which will have short-term targets as agreed at the Annual Review and termly by the tutors, and long-term targets as described in the EHCP. Each student’s progress and targets are regularly monitored and appropriate interventions are put in place where needed
  • As with all students in the school, we use a variety of screening tools, including MidYis and Lucid-LASS. This gives the baseline levels, reasoned expectations and analysis of value added, Progress 8 and Achievement8. All these enable monitoring of student development
  • The Specialist Centre is committed to high achievement and self-evaluation and ensures that students demonstrate good progress. Progression routes for each student are discussed with parents/carers during consultation meetings or annual review meetings in school



What support is there for the overall well-being of students with vision impairment?

  • The Specialist Centre is committed to multi-agency working to ensure that the needs of the whole student are met
  • Professionals from other agencies including Physical and Sensory Support and Sight for Surrey (and when required physiotherapy, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, health and CAMHS) visit the Centre on a regular basis. As well as supporting individual students, these professionals advise staff around strategies for access and offer training
  • Student voice is encouraged in all areas of the Centre through regular meetings of the student council
  • Students, where appropriate, contribute to the review of their Individual Learning Programmes and the annual review of their EHC plan through a person centred review process. They are encouraged to know their targets so that they can describe their next steps of learning to achieve those targets. They are also encouraged to self-advocate: an important facet of independence



What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the Specialist Centre?

  • All of our educational staff have had specialist training and development. The Head of Centre is a mainstream teacher with an additional and mandatory specialist qualification in teaching students with vision impairment. Each teaching assistant (TA) has received training specific to working with students who have vision impairment and SEN
  • Both teachers and support staff undertake programmes of training which keeps them up to date with the specialist skills and knowledge necessary for working with students with vision impairment.  Training is always given to new teachers and they are encouraged to visit the VI Centre and liaise with staff.  Training is offered throughout the year
  • Ongoing training and visits from IT providers. Also attend specialist VI technology fairs (with students)
  • The Specialist Centre liaises closely and works collaboratively with other agencies/specialist centres in meeting the wider range of need for students with vision impairment



What training does the staff supporting students with VI receive?

  • All our staff receive regular training to support them to fulfil their roles. Teaching staff and TAs have accessed targeted programmes of Continuing Professional Development provided by the County. They also meet regularly/shadow their peers in other VI Centres. The Head of Centre meets with other Heads of VI Specialist Centres, is a member of NatSIP, HOSS and attends VI specific conferences. Teachers and staff have access to mobility training, technology training as the need arises



How are students with VI included in activities outside the classroom including school trips?

  • With their fully-sighted peers, students with vision impairment are offered opportunities to take part in a wide range of trips and residential activities. In fact, they are actively encouraged, invited and welcomed to participate
  • In addition, VI-specific off-site visits are designed to enhance curricular and recreational opportunities for students with vision impairment as well as, importantly, promoting and building their independence
  • All visits and activities are risk assessed to ensure they are safe, accessible and appropriate for individual students
  • Parents /carers take an active part in discussions around residential visits and these are discussed both formally at parent meetings/annual review meetings



How accessible is the wider school environment?

  • The school has an Accessibility Plan in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and Reasonable Adjustments Duty, which keeps access to the curriculum, the environment and information under regular review
  • A new environmental audit was completed in March 2016
  • The building is accessible for wheelchair users with wide corridors, ramps and a lift for student use in most buildings. Where not, lessons would be moved to meet the needs of the student. There is a disabled toilet and changing facilities
  • Most rooms have blinds for use in sunlight to prevent glare
  • Designated parking has been set aside for those students with vision impairment arriving by taxi
  • The Specialist Centre itself (situated within the hub of the school and where modified and adapted curriculum resources are produced) provides a meeting point and workplace for students with vision impairment



How does the Specialist Centre prepare for and support students with VI at points of transition?

  • The Specialist Centre works closely with the local authority to ensure that students are offered provision that meets their needs. Parents/carers are welcomed to visit the school at any time, having made an appointment, prior to applying for a place through the application process. We welcome all visits and would like to be involved in the transition of students from at least Year 5
  • Students are encouraged to access transition opportunities as both mainstream students and  students of VI
  • The Head of Centre and team liaises with a range of staff in schools and other services to plan appropriate support for students joining the school and specialist centre or when transferring to the next setting
  • The Specialist Centre works closely with Sight for Surrey and partner schools / settings to offer a series of pre-transfer visits with support to help students with vision impairment  become familiar with staff and the new environment
  • The annual Strawberry Tea in July enables new students and parents to meet current and former students and their parents
  • Planning is a vital part of the annual review process at all points of transition. At secondary school level, parents/carers and students meet a designated Pathways advisor and many have the opportunity in Year 11 to visit their chosen college or the opportunity in Year 12 and/or Year 13 to visit their chosen university
  • Students with vision impairment undertake a period of work experience in order to gain an understanding of the world of work and they access a curriculum that offers opportunities to develop independence and work skills
  • We currently work with a Charity, Blind in Business, to advise and support our students to learn interview techniques, understand the support available in the world of work and be ambitious in their career choices.
  • All our students gain GCSEs in line with their abilities. A few move to college at 16, but the majority proceed to higher education and university.  Advice and support are offered at all these stages



How are the Specialist Centre’s resources allocated and matched to students with VI?

  • In line with Local Authority guidelines, a significant amount from school resources is dedicated to providing specialist equipment for students with vision impairment, personalised learning (and that includes preparing, modifying and adapting resources) and appropriate levels of staffing. Funding, however, is not allocated hourly and allocation of resources is always under review



How is the decision made about what type and how much support students with VI receive?


  • The students’  EHC Plan reflects the students’ current needs and funding is provided in accordance with low incidence, high impact disability.  This is agreed through discussion between the school and the Local Authority
  • Provision (overseen by the Head of Centre and including timetabled in-class support) is planned to achieve the outcomes set for each individual student. It is constantly reviewed
  • Where appropriate, meetings with the students take place to plan in which lessons they will receive support so that best use of resources is made in accordance with their targets and developing independence



How are parents/carers of students with VI involved in the school?

How do they become involved?


  • The school and specialist centre believe that a student’s education is a partnership between parents/carers and staff. Therefore we aim to keep communication channels open and communicate with parents/carers regularly via phone calls, emails and meetings
  • Parents/carers of students with vision impairment are invited to all review meetings and there is a Parent Association as well as parent representation on the Governing Body



Who do parents/cares of students with VI contact for further information?

  • For parents/carers of students with vision impairment, the first point of contact when anything VI-related needs to be discussed is the Head of Centre: Mrs H Leech tel: 01883 712425 (x234) (email hleech@oxtedschool.co.uk)
  • For any other queries or concerns pertaining to day-today school issues please contact the class teacher / Tutor / Head of House