Evidence suggests that children with both refractive and permanent visual impairment are at a disadvantage compared to their visually normal peers with regard to educational achievement. Teachers receive limited training in paediatric health disorders, particularly relating to the eyes and visual system. This study evaluated a training programme aimed at increasing teachers’ knowledge and awareness of childhood vision problems. Two groups of teachers (primary and post-primary) (in-training: n = 42 and qualified: n = 9) attended a lecture and workshop outlining common visual problems in children. The workshop simulated a range of visual difficulties, allowing teachers to gain an insight into how visual impairment may impact on learning. The design of the programme was informed by educational specialists with experience in designing pedagogic programmes for postgraduate trainee teachers. This interprofessional approach prompted the inclusion of teaching methods, typically used with teacher education programmes. Formal feedback was invited following the lecture and workshop using a questionnaire employing both open and closed questions. Questions related to each individual’s level of knowledge of ‘common causes of visual impairment’, ‘professionals involved in eye care’ and ‘how to address visual problems in the classroom’ before and after participating in the session. Closed questions were graded using a five-point Likert grading scale. Seventeen questionnaires were returned from the teachers in training and eight from qualified teachers. Non-parametric analyses were applied. In both groups, a significant improvement in knowledge was obtained for all three areas (p < 0.05). Open comments were positive and related to gaining an insight into the learning experiences for children with visual problems and how to overcome potential barriers as a result of visual impairment. This novel interprofessional initiative highlights teachers’ lack of knowledge of common childhood vision problems and how to address these within a mainstream classroom environment. The study also demonstrated the potential of a novel training programme to improve teachers’ awareness of how visual problems impact on classroom behaviour and learning, and how to address these problems to the benefit of their pupils. It demonstrated the importance of viewing patients holistically, considering the effects of healthcare and education synergistically. Further work is required to investigate fully the long-term implications of such training.
|Article number||ISSN 2517-5696|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Optometry in Practice|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Jul 2018|
- vision, teachers, school, training