Yvonne Smith, Advisory Teacher

Testimonial: Positive Looking – A strategic approach to supporting special schools

Yvonne Smith, Advisory Teacher for Children with VI, Bradford, UK

Yvonne Smith is an Advisory Teacher for Children with VI in Bradford, working with visually impaired and children with complex needs and visual impairment in special schools. She deals with many children with additional complex needs, and there is a great demand for services across the local authority.
She says, “When I joined the service two years ago it was apparent that there was a huge demand in Bradford, and we had finite resources. I needed to be able to build capacity in schools in the area, and have found Positive Looking to be an ideal means to achieve this.”

Yvonne pioneered a system whereby she set up a network of Vision Leads in each of six schools (three primary and three secondary) where there was a need for VI teaching. Each designated Vision Lead was provided with a copy of Positive Looking, a comprehensive framework of ideas and activities designed by Positive Eye to support practitioners and help them measure a child’s progress. In addition, the Vision Leads were supported by Vision Champions – nursery nurses or teaching assistants who volunteered to take on the role – who were able to spend time working with children, using Positive Looking to carry out one to one sessions with them to develop their skills. This in-school network, guided by the Visual Impairment team and with access to the practical and straightforward methods outlined in Positive Looking, has been extremely effective.

Yvonne says, “Positive Looking is so simple and easy to understand that it makes this system possible as anyone can follow the resources. We train and support the leads and champions, meeting every half term to share good practice, and they are doing very well. Thanks to Positive Looking they are able to not only work with the children but map their development too.” “We could not have achieved this consistency without Positive Looking. It is so easy to understand, and gives straightforward instructions and targets as well as stating clearly what to look for and how to chart progress.”

“It contains some really excellent observations which are simple to track and evaluate and now we are finding that staff in schools are able to communicate with us in a way that they couldn’t before.” “Our ophthalmologist was also really impressed by the programme and said the difference that she has seen in awareness of VI in schools over the last two years has been incredible since the introduction of Positive Looking.”
“I don’t know why everyone in the country isn’t using this programme. In my opinion every special school should have a copy. As soon as you begin to use Positive Looking you realise how good it is. VI can be low on the education agenda and in Bradford the resources and help from Positive Eye have really helped us to bring it to the fore.”