Sensory and Physical

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties. Information on how to provide services for deafblind children and young people is available through the Social Care for Deafblind Children and Adults guidance published by the Department of Health (see the References section under Chapter 6 for a link).

Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

(SEN Code of Pratice, 2015)



As part of Norfolk County Council, the Virtual School – Sensory Support aims to champion the education of children and young people with a sensory loss, through delivery of comprehensive and flexible support to them and their families to help them develop high aspirations and reach their full potential.

Qualified teachers of CYP (Children & Young People) with SI (Sensory Impairment) carry out a central role in the education of children from birth, working in homes, early years settings, schools and post 16 settings.  This includes:

Early Intervention

  • Managing referrals from health to education, with clear referral routes and eligibility criteria for specialist support, such as the NatSIP Eligibility Criteria guidancewhich is used by over 90% of services
  • Assessing children’s functional vision and hearing in liaison with health professionals
  • Liaising with health professionals on the range of available low vision devices and hearing technology and how to use them
  • Providing direct support to babies and young children and their parents in the home to support early development and learning through play and promote parental confidence. This may include the use of the SI specific Early Support resources. The specialist teacher is frequently the professional best placed to take on a key working role.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

  • Advising in mainstream and specialist settings on strategies for curriculum access and independent learning
  • Guiding the work of other professionals, such as teaching assistants, therapists, through INSET, ongoing specialist advice and direct teaching
  • Teaching specialist skills, for example Braille, communication skills or the use of specialist equipment and ICT
  • Adapting teaching and learning resources in print, audio or tactile formats
  • Advising on access arrangements for exams
  • Developing the communication skills of children with additional or complex needs

Additional Curriculum

  • Advising on how appropriate communication and independence strategies can enhance children’s functional vision and hearing
  • Assessing and reviewing settings/environments for accessibility, such as acoustics, lighting levels, and health and safety
  • Promoting emotional wellbeing and social and communication skills


  • Providing a birth to 25 service, including effective transition arrangements at key stages through awareness raising, transfer of information and ensuring specialist equipment is in place in the new setting
  • Supporting students through transition into post 16/Further Education provision, employment and independent adulthood
  • Providing a skills mix which allows services to develop specialisms e.g. in early years or post 16

In addition, specialist services in health include

  • Ophthalmology, optometry, orthoptics, speech and language therapy, audiology, cochlear implant centres, specialist Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for deaf children

Specialist services in social care include

  • Social worker teams for Hearing Impaired/Vision Impaired/deafblind/disabled children, provision of specialist equipment for use in the home, accessible childcare and leisure services, habilitation