Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment MEd/BPhil/Postgraduate Diploma

This two-year distance education programme is open to teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or equivalent, seeking the Mandatory Qualification (MQ) for specialist teachers of children with visual impairment. An alternative programme (Education of Children with Visual Impairment) is also open to teachers (as well as other professionals with appropriate qualifications) working with children and young people with visual impairment who are not seeking the MQ.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Continuing professional development, distance learning

Study Options: Distance learning

Duration: MEd: 3-6 years; PG Diploma: 2-4 years; BPhil; 2-3 years

Start date: September

Details

This distance learning course is aimed at teachers with Qualified Teacher Status who work with children and young people with a visual impairment.

The aims of the programme are:

  • To develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that will enable teachers to work confidently and effectively in a variety of educational settings with children who have visual impairment, with their families and with the professionals who support them
  • To develop critical and analytical enquiry-based learning skills to enable teachers to work successfully in the range of contexts where children with visual impairment are educated
  • To provide a conceptual framework that is derived from relevant literature and research, and structured around the national SEN specialist standards for the Mandatory Qualification in Visual Impairment

Students will be required to attend University based study-weekends and regional tutorials as specified throughout the programme. The programme includes a taught Braille component, an assessed teaching placement and a negotiated programme of visits to specialist provision. Most of the module content will be delivered online and as such we recommend that students have suitable internet access prior to commencing their studies.

On successful completion of the PG Diploma students may transfer to the MEd programme (Education of Children with Visual Impairment). This is usually undertaken as an additional year of study and requires completion of a research methods module (4000 words) and a dissertation (15000 words). An additional fee is payable for this period of study

pdficonsmallDownload a flier for the Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment programme (PDF opens new window) 

You may also be interested in two of our other programmes: Teachers of Children with Hearing Impairment and Multisensory Impairment (Deafblindness).

Why study this course

The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has an international reputation for Special Education and offers distance learning programmes in visual impairment, multi-sensory impairment, speech and language impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties and autism as well as full and part time modular programmes in many areas of Special Educational Needs. The visual impairment programmes are well established and have been offered for over 25 years as both full time and part time options.

Tutors on the programme are aligned to the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR). The aims of VICTAR are to:

  • undertake social and educational research in the area of visual impairment; 
  • offer training in the area of visual impairment and education through high quality and relevant professional development programmes; 
  • disseminate our work to ensure it has positive impact.

Underlying this work is the belief that:

'Through education, through research, and through access to appropriate resources, the barriers to learning and participation that may be experienced by people with visual impairment can be better understood and reduced'.

The Centre is part of a broader Sensory Team and works directly with colleagues in the fields of Deafness and Hearing Impairment, and Deafblindness / Multi-sensory Impairment.

Modules

Module 1 (20 credits):

Assessment of Children with Visual Impairment: Understanding and Meeting Individual Needs

This module is designed to develop knowledge and understanding of vision and visual processing, as well as the possible effects of ocular and cerebral visual dysfunction for learning and development. It examines issues involved in assessment, as well as in interpreting assessment information, within both clinical as well as functional settings. This includes knowledge and understanding of the use of a range of approaches for information gathering, including observation techniques and related forms of assessment. Participants will also be expected to develop knowledge and understanding of the choice and use of approaches to the assessment and enhancement of visual function and the provision of Low Vision Aids (LVAs).

Module 2 (20 credits):

Inclusion of children with Visual Impairment: Policy and Practice

This module has been designed to enable participants to relate their experience to the overall developments in provision for pupils with visual impairment at both regional and national levels. A key emphasis will be on roles and responsibilities within the context of inclusion and the changing role of the specialist teacher and other professionals. The module includes a negotiated programme of visits for participants to observe different types of provision for children and young people with visual impairment. Participants will be expected to keep a reflective journal and undertake a series of focused tasks during these visits.

Module 3 (20 credits):

Curriculum Access for Learners with Visual Impairment

This module explores the range of methods available for children with visual impairment to access the curriculum. The module will focus on the possible implications of a visual impairment for access in a number of curriculum areas, including communication/literacy and numeracy. Participants will have opportunities to examine the role of specialist technology in widening access for individual learners with visual impairment, and analyse their own role in the design, implementation and evaluation of appropriate educational programmes. 

Module 4 (20 credits):

Social and Emotional Development in Children with Visual Impairment

Children with visual impairment often require additional opportunities to develop independence skills, including mobility, orientation and daily living skills. Professionals who support children with visual impairment will need to understand therefore how such input can be provided in order to reduce potential barriers to learning and participation. The focus of this module is to offer participants opportunities to develop and evaluate forms of intervention most likely to support the social and emotional well being of the children they work with, as well as to consider the role of the different professionals when working within a multi-disciplinary team.

Module 5 (20 credits):

Special Studies in Education

This module provides students with the opportunity to investigate a particular professional issue and assess its educational and practical significance. The module is supervised and assessed by Regional and/or Programme tutors.

Module 6 (20 credits):

Effective Teaching of Children with Visual Impairment

This module focuses on the application of existing teaching strategies and the development of new approaches to meet the specific needs of pupils with visual impairment (including those with multiple needs). This module aims to enable participants to identify and meet the learning needs of pupils with visual impairment by: 

  • identifying the range of barriers to learning and participation experienced by pupils and devising appropriate strategies to reduce these barriers; 
  • evaluating assessment criteria and selecting from the range available to meet pupil learning needs and styles;
  • adapting and evaluating their own teaching strategies to promote full curricular access; 
  • responding to the needs of pupils within the context of the whole class, specific forms of groupings within a class and as an individual; 
  • analysing and evaluating their own practice with reference to the relevant National College for Teaching and Leadership standards for the mandatory qualification in visual impairment

Fees and funding

Fees Home/EU 2014-2015

Mandatory

  • Code 5791 BPhil £3,253 each year
  • Code 5793 PGDip £3,215 each year

Non Mandatory

  • Code 5795 BPhil £3,253 each year
  • Code 5801 PGDip £3,215 each year
  • Code 5803 MEd £3,215 first year; £3,215 second year; £1,980 third year

Fees are based on students studying 60 credits per year on part-time programmes. Students who complete more than 60 credits in a year will be charged an additional fee. 

The fees shown above are annual fees for students starting their courses September in 2014. Please note that where courses last more than one year, the annual fees for subsequent years on the course may increase due to inflation. 

Fees Overseas 2014 

  • Mandatory

    Code 5791 BPhil £6,282.50 each year 
  • Code 5793 PGDip £4,555 first year; £4,400 second year 

Non Mandatory

  • Code 5795 BPhil £6,282.50 each year 
  • Code 5801 PGDip £4,555 first year; £4,400 second year 
  • Code 5803 MEd £4,555 first year; £4,400 second year; £4,250 third year 

Fees are based on students studying 60 credits per year on part-time programmes. Students who complete more than 60 credits in a year will be charged an additional fee.

The fees shown above are annual fees for students starting their courses September in 2014. Please note that where courses last more than one year, the annual fees for subsequent years on the course may increase due to inflation.

Learn more about fees and funding 

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.  

Entry requirements

Please refer to the School of Education entry requirements webpage for general entry requirements. In addition, it is a requirement that applicants are teachers with DfE Qualified Teacher Status (or equivalent) and will normally have a minimum of three years teaching experience. They must also demonstrate that they will have access to children with visual impairment throughout the duration of the programme. Applicants who are not currently working with children with visual impairment will be required to undertake a programme of visits as directed by the programme tutors, and/or to align themselves to an appropriate school or service prior to commencing their studies.  

International students   

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

Delivery of the programme is mainly through Distance Learning although students are required to attend residential weekends and regional tutorials as specified throughout the programme. The programme includes a taught braille component, an assessed teaching placement and a negotiated programme of visits to specialist provision. Most of the content is delivered online and as such students will be required to have appropriate internet access prior to commencing their studies. The programme and individual modules draw upon a range of learning and teaching approaches, a number of which are structured around the principles of enquiry based learning (EBL).

Residential Study Weekends

Over the course of the two year programme, students are required to attend four three day residential study weekends which are held in September and March/April at the School of Education. The dates for 2014-2015 are:

5 - 7 September 2014 
10 - 12 April 2015

Meet the regional tutors

Students will normally be allocated to a Regional Tutor who will offer support and guidance throughout the programme. The Regional Tutors will arrange to meet students in their Regional Groups on a regular basis throughout each year (approximately once per module). Online tutorials may also be offered as an alternative to face to face meetings.

Regional tutors discuss their role in supporting students on the programme.

regional tutors
Rory Cobb Joao Roe
Jeanette Lomas Sue Cook
Julie Sweeting Ros Gibbons


Regional Study Days

In year one of the programme, students are required to attend a Regional Study Day which takes place on a Saturday. The Study Day is a compulsory part of the programme and students will be asked to prepare some work for the day’s discussion, either as an individual, or as part of a group. In year two of the programme, this component will usually take place online.

Time for Study

Your involvement in the programme will require you to be released from some of your current work, and it will be helpful for applicants to consider carefully these issues with their line managers/sponsors prior to attending the interview:

  • The programme tutors strongly recommend that students are allowed a minimum of half a day per week for study and research.
  • Module 2 includes a negotiated programme of visits for participants to observe different types of provision for children and young people with visual impairment for example, LVA / orthoptic clinics, other services, schools, colleges, etc. Students will be required to negotiate a minimum of 10 visits with their Regional Tutors and line manager. For planning purposes a ‘visit’ is considered to require a minimum of half a day, although for some visits a full day may be required. Further guidance on this component will be offered at Residential Study Weekend 1. 
  • Full participation in the Residential Study Weekends requires attendance on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Accommodation for these components is offered at the University. 
  • Teachers may require extended release for the 15 day teaching placement in year 2. An additional day may be required for a visit to the host school/service prior to commencing the practice. 
  • The time needed by students for study may decrease their ability to help with other types of activities. 
  • Applications for the programme starting September 2013 should be received by end of July, although applicants are strongly advised to apply earlier where possible. Late applications will only be considered if the programme is not full. All applicants will normally be interviewed by phone to confirm that they meet the programme requirements. For the MQ programme these requirements include:
    • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
    • Regular access to children and young people with visual impairment
    • Close affiliation with a school or service for children and young people with a visual impairment (particularly relevant for self funding students)
    • Access to a braille machine for the duration of the programme (or willingness to purchase one)
    • Online access from home and or work
    • Appropriate resources and commitment to allow full engagement in all the required components of the programme (eg attendance at residential study weekend, tutorials, braille component etc)

Further information about the Braille/Negotiated Teaching Placement

Braille

The aim of this component of the programme is to assist students to become competent and efficient readers and writers of braille. Learning and assessment of the braille code takes place throughout the two year programme. 

The Birmingham Braille Course has been designed specifically to meet the needs of sighted teachers learning braille through distance education with support from a braille tutor. Students may wish to begin this component of the programme as soon as their registration has been confirmed.
Students already proficient in braille will be required to demonstrate their competency to the satisfaction of a University braille tutor.

Teaching Placement

Teaching Placement

The 15 day assessed teaching placement usually takes place between September and July of year 2. We recommend that students, where possible, undertake their placement outside their own school/service (for which an additional one day pre-placement visit may be required). As part of the placement students are expected to demonstrate their ability to teach children or young people with visual impairment using both sighted and non-sighted methods.  

Additional Expenditure

When making an application for funding for this programme, it will be useful for students who are being sponsored to bring to their employer’s notice these additional costs. These costs are approximate and should be adapted for individual circumstances. 

Year one

Cover for Module 1 negotiated programme of visits (10 visits – each visit a minimum of half-a-day)
Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)
Travel to Regional Tutorials
Cover for Module 1 negotiated programme of visits (10 visits – each visit a minimum of half-a-day) Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)

Travel to: 

  • Regional Tutorials 
  • Educational Visits 
  • Regional Study Day 
  • Residential Study Weekends 1 and 2 (University of Birmingham)

Key texts for the programme (Approx £300)

Year Two

Cover for Year 2 teaching placement (15 days practice + up to 1 pre-placement visit)
Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)
Travel to: 

  • Regional Tutorials 
  • Educational Visits 
  • Regional Study Day 
  • Residential Study Weekends 3 and 4 (University of Birmingham) 
  • Teaching Placement

Additional texts for the programme (approx £100)
Sponsors and students will be asked to sign a Programme Agreement once the application has been processed.
This document is also available in an alternative format (ie. large print, electronic copy, Braille) on request.  

Assessment methods

The modules will require successful completion of a portfolio containing:

  • evidence that the participants have met all the relevant National College for Teaching and Leadership standards for the mandatory qualification in visual impairment;
  • evidence that participants have achieved competence in Grade 2 British Braille; 
  • a critical analysis of the negotiated teaching placement during which they have demonstrated effective classroom management to a visiting assessor appointed by the University.

Employability

On successful completion of the programme students will be awarded a BPhil or PG Diploma (Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment). These awards are recognised by the Teaching Agency as meeting the requirements for the mandatory qualification for specialist teachers of the visually impaired.

Alumni Profiles

Find out what two former students of the Teachers of Children with Visual Impairment programme are doing now.