Specialist vision impairment (VI) curriculum

The Vision Support Service (VSS) supports children and young people with VI to access the standard academic curriculum. It also makes sure they're taught a range of:

  • independent learning
  • mobility
  • everyday living
  • social skills

With younger children the emphasis is on ensuring equal access to learning, but as the young person develops the emphasis moves to learning to access. This is achieved by building self confidence in the child and young person (CYP) and helping them to become an advocate for themselves. Rather than relying on a teaching assistant to interpret the information in a lesson, use of tools such as assistive technology give independent access to print and other visual information. 

The Specialist VI curriculum is based on the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) which is internationally recognised and used widely across the world.  The ECC comprises nine specialist areas in addition to the core curriculum and include;

  • compensatory or access skills
  • sensory efficiency skills (tactile, listening skills)
  • use of assistive technology
  • self determination skills (self advocacy)
  • social interaction skills
  • recreational and leisure skills
  • orientation and mobility skills and concepts
  • independent living skills
  • careers education

Teaching these skills helps to empower the CYP to reach their full potential and become active members of society.

VSS use a range of evidence-based teaching approaches to incorporate the specialist VI curriculum into the life of the CYP.

The national curriculum is just one element in the education of every child. There is time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the national curriculum specifications” (DfE, 2014, para 3.2).

We offer short term programs to give the CYP the opportunity to meet with peers, work on areas of the specialist curriculum and develop independence.

Provision map

VSS uses a provision map to determine the appropriate assessments and interventions for individual students based on their visual needs and abilities. 

VSS follows the principals set out in the Dorset Children, Young People and Families Plan 2020 to 2023.


In delivering our plan there are the 7 outcomes or conditions of wellbeing we want for all our children and young people in Dorset and that is that all children and young people:

  • have the best start in life
  • are safe from harm and have the help they need
  • do well at learning and have a settled and happy education
  • have healthy and active lives
  • are prepared for adult life
  • feel they can have their say and are listened to
  • enjoy growing up in Dorset

We regularly seek the voice of the CYP during visits. VSS use a 7 point mental health checklist developed called the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (S) WEMWBS as recommended by the DfE.

These short questions will provide VSS with a RAG rate (Red = 0-2  Amber = 3-5 Green = 6-7) which can be used to identify needs and indicate follow up strategies. The statements work best from Key Stage 2 onwards.

The 7 questions are:

Please select the answer that best describes your experience of each over the last 2 weeks:

  1. I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future.
  2. I’ve been feeling useful.
  3. I’ve been feeling relaxed.
  4. I’ve been dealing with problems well.
  5. I’ve been thinking clearly.
  6. I’ve been feeling close to other people.
  7. I’ve been able to make up my own mind about things.

Finding support for your child’s mental health and wellbeing

If you are concerned about a child’s safety or wellbeing please follow your usual safeguarding procedures and consult with the designated safeguarding lead at the school or setting where your child attends or your local council.

Tips and information on where to seek further mental health and wellbeing advice is available from the NSPCC website 

If the child is at immediate risk of harm take them to your GP, A&E or ring 999 straight away.

Request a Vision Support Service referral

Principal Advisory Teacher (Vision Support Service)

Name: Christopher Marshall
Email: christopher.marshall@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224061
Full contact details