EDUCATION chiefs have rolled out a new initiative which will act as a safety net for youngsters who are blind or hard of hearing.
Renfrewshire Council’s new co-ordinated approach is designed to act early to help improve attainment and achievement and develop language and social skills among pupils with these disabilities.
The ultimate aim is to give all pupils the best chance of being fully included in society as successful learners, who are confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
A 10-strong team of teachers, specialising in sensory impairment, works with around 230 pupils who have problems with their hearing and/or sight.
The teachers work alongside a network of classroom assistants who are assigned to pupils depending on the nature and extent of the support they need.
Councillor Lorraine Cameron, convener of Renfrewshire’s Education Policy Board, said: “We aim to give all our pupils the best possible start in life that we can. The services that we provide are designed to catch any issues which might affect a child’s development as quickly as possible and meet pupils’ needs at all stages.
“Children with moderate to severe hearing loss benefit from a dedicated teacher at Glenfield Community Nursery four days a week. This kind of early intervention gives children the best option in terms of language learning.
“In the same way, we are currently running a pilot ‘nurture’ project.
“Renfrewshire has its fair share of social problems and these have an impact on children.
“The provision of two teachers, a classroom assistant and an early years practitioner provides support for children who have trouble settling down into the school setting.
“They work intensively with children in primary one from across the authority in a specialised setting to help support them with any emotional, social or behavioural problems that they may have. These measures are all about looking ahead and meeting the needs of our changing population.
“Early action can be the key to helping children go on to have a successful school experience and ultimately to positive destinations, including employment, training and continuing education.”
Support bases have also been established at Castlehead High in Paisley and Park Mains High in Erskine to help pupils who have language and communication difficulties.
Jan Savage, acting director of Scotland’s National Deaf Children’s Society, the only national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for every deaf child, said: “This is great news and we would welcome any investment and improvements made by Renfrewshire Council, or any local authority, which will benefit the needs of pupils.
“But we would encourage them to continue to engage with service users, parents and pupils alike so that the authorities can continue to plan and resource the appropriately skilled education support staff.”