School pupils in West Lothian are set to benefit from a new and improved education support service.
West Lothian Council Executive have approved the award of a new contract to third sector organisation Sight Scotland to provide enhanced services from April 2023.
A recent review of Additional Support Needs Services identified a need to ensure local school pupils with a visual impairment had an integrated programme to develop their essential living skills at school and at home. This will provide West Lothian pupils with a better level of support from birth through to integration, with outreach support identified as essential to support the individual needs of children and young people.
Research identified Sight Scotland as the only organisation able to deliver the improved level of service required, as well as improved data analytics and reporting to allow schools to deliver a more robust service to pupils. The cost of the contract will be £120,000 per year for two years, which is a reduction to the previous contract which was £211,832 annually.
Executive councillor for education Andrew McGuire said: “I am delighted to agree this new contract which will benefit all our visually impaired children and young people in West Lothian. We look forward to working with Sight Scotland to deliver an enhanced service to our young people with visual impairments over the next two years.”
Davina Shiell, Director of Communications at Sight Scotland, comments: “We will work alongside local authority staff to ensure there is a deeper understanding of visual impairment, and help implement strategies, tools and understanding to enable blind and partially sighted pupils in all settings to access the curriculum.
“Our team of specialist Qualified Teachers of Children and Young People with Visual Impairment (QTVI), Habilitation Specialists and Learning Support Staff, will work alongside colleagues in mainstream education to meet the learning goals of children, with support customised to each child’s needs. The service also includes supporting visually impaired pupils’ mobility and life skills to help build their independence.”
Shiell adds: “We are now supporting mainstream schools in Midlothian, East Lothian, and West Lothian, as well as in the Orkney Isles, and are committed to helping more young people with vision impairment get the best possible education. Together, we can help empower young people to become confident individuals and successful learners.”
Sight Scotland also runs the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, which provides education and support to primary and high-school-aged children.
For more information on Sight Scotland please visit sightscotland.org.uk.