I was very impressed with the professionalism of the service and literature and extremely grateful for the advice provided. In our case, the [Enquire] Helpline helped to secure a positive outcome from the local authority for our child, together with a commitment to the revision of the authority’s policy.
Sally Paterson, Qualified Teacher Visually Impairment, Royal Blind Learning Hub
What does your role involve?
I am the manager of the Royal Blind Learning Hub. The Learning Hub is a new education support service designed to give information and training to teaching staff working with a pupil with visual impairment in mainstream schools. This is done through face to face contact, seminars and via resources on the Learning Hub website www.learninghub.royalblind.org.
In what ways does your work make a direct difference to the lives of young people, and their families?
The mission of the Royal Blind Learning Hub is to improve the understanding and skills of staff by providing them with direct and online support to enhance the education of their pupils with visual impairment. By providing access to general awareness raising training and subject specific solutions the education of young people with visual impairment will be improved and staff will have increased confidence in meeting their needs.
What’s involved in a typical day in your job?
As this is a new service no two days are the same! I have to liaise with teaching staff at the Royal Blind School to create resources for the website; host and contribute to training events that we run; teach Braille and provide face to face advice and support to teachers across Scotland.
What led you to your current role?
I previously worked as a QTVI (qualified teacher of the visually impaired) for a local authority delivering support for visually impaired pupils’ education and advising teachers on their role and resources. In this position I was made aware of the need for more support and information to be available to mainstream school staff. Working for the Learning Hub allows me to connect with more teachers across the whole of Scotland and be part of the solution to providing educational support for pupils with visual impairment.
What do you think are the main challenges of the job?
The main challenges are responding to needs in the most effective way. It requires a lot of liaison with colleagues and local authority provision to make sure we are helping to provide the best education for our young people. Planning events that are accessible and appropriate, making the best use of staff time is important. In an era of limited time and budgets there is a constant need to target services. I want the Royal Blind Learning Hub to be providing training and resources that are meaningful and relevant.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Seeing staff encouraged and empowered to go back into schools or nurseries with a new understanding of their pupils’ needs and with practical ideas and strategies to support them. Also nothing ever replaces the satisfaction of working with young people with visual impairment, helping them to learn something new and become more independent in their education.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your job?
Every child with visual impairment is different and requires a unique approach to their education. We have to think ‘outside the box’ and find new ways to maximise educational success and foster independence.