Royal Blind has welcomed new figures which show an improvement in the number of vision impaired pupils who progress to positive destinations after school. However, the charity, which runs the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, has highlighted they still face an attainment gap compared to fully sighted pupils.
The Scottish Government’s new figures on leaver destinations published today show that there has been an increase in the number of pupils with vision impairment who progress to higher education, training or employment. Overall 88.8% of vision impaired pupils progressed to positive destinations in 2016/17, compared to 85.2% in 2015/16. However, there remains an attainment gap compared to pupils without additional support needs, 94.9% of whom move on to positive destinations.
The charity has also expressed concern over the fact there has actually been a reduction in the number of vision impaired pupils progressing to Further Education. In 2015/16 35.9% of pupils with vision impairment progressed to Further Education, but for 2016/17 this number fell to 32.2%.
Responding to the figures, Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind said:
“We welcome any improvement in the number of vision impaired pupils progressing to positive destinations after school, but these figures show that while the attainment gap with their fully sighted peers has narrowed it has far from closed. Nor do they show the gap we know exists in equipping vision impaired pupils with the life skills they need to maximise independent living.
“Improvements in the number of blind and partially sighted pupils moving on to higher education, training and work are encouraging, but we are concerned about the number going to Further Education actually falling. Through our work in the Royal Blind School and Learning Hub we are aware there are concerns over the availability of specialist support available to vision impaired students in Further Education. We believe the Scottish Government should consider specific action in this area.
“We all want to see equality in education provision for vision impaired pupils and those with other additional support needs, but these figures show that while there are welcome improvements we still have a long way to give all our disabled children and young people the life opportunities they deserve.”