Why did you take part in the initiative?
Our school motto is #ConnaughtCares and we believe in making things happen so when the opportunity came up to screen the whole school we took it.
All of our children deserve good vision and we know that in many cases, after the initial vision screening in reception, they don’t visit an eye care professional again. We understand that parents lead busy lives and it can sometimes be difficult for families to get to an optician, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible and bring one to their children.
Poor eye sight can wreak havoc from a young age on a pupil’s education and self-esteem. Good vision sets a strong foundation for learning in schools and historically it has been proven that children who wear spectacles, when needed, have improved performance.
What are the consequences of poor vision at school?
Good vision is important to a child's education and way of life. Many children at this age won’t recognise that there’s something wrong with their vision and it is particularly damaging if vision problems go undetected.
It can lead to underperformance, low self-esteem and a ‘can’t do’ attitude of giving up too easily. They won’t know why they’re struggling - if you can’t see it, you can’t see it.
As it’s impossible for children to know whether there’s a problem with vision they rely heavily on parents and teachers to help spot the signs.
Our teachers frequently report poor vision in the class room. This might be complaints of headaches, not seeing the board and difficulty learning to read. Children might be holding books at a strange distance or reluctant to learn. It can also sometimes be an underlying cause of bad behaviour.
It can be particularly damaging for year six students leaving primary school below the required standards and having a big impact on their learning journey at secondary school.
What happened on the day?
The wonderful Essilor team set up a very sleek screening area in our sports hall and one class at a time visited with their teacher.
The group of children were taken through eye education materials and played games such as ‘spot the difference’ to help put them at ease and feel safe as they waited to have their vision screened.
One by one, a member of the Essilor team tested their visual acuity using the Sheridan Gardiner test designed to meet the needs of children too young to be able to take a Snellen test. Children pointed to the matching letter on a card, rather than having to know the letter sounds.
If a problem was spotted on the day then the child was referred for a full eye examination at a local optician so that underlying eye conditions could be identified and corrected with glasses if required.
When children are vision screened in reception, a letter goes home to parents if there’s a problem but sadly these don’t often get followed up. We now have a list of parents who have been informed their child has poor vision, enabling us to support them on the next stage. This might be a quick conversation at the school gate or during parents’ evening to gently remind them about booking an appointment.
Advice was also given to teachers on spotting tell-tell signs of poor vision so they can troubleshoot in the future. This doesn’t get covered in teaching training so it was an invaluable tool for newer teachers.
Did the children enjoy the experience?
The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were in a very relaxed frame of mind during the screening because they were engaged while waiting, rather than just queuing up for their turn.
They all know the importance of brushing their hair and teeth and the vision screening helped to raise the profile of your eyes being important too.
They felt very grown up and were able to take leaflets and fluffy bugs with the “vision first” message home as a conversation starter on World Sight Day.
What were the screening results?
A fifth of the children screened were referred to their local optician. This is a really large percentage and we’re now giving parents some time to book appointments over half term before we follow up with them.
In the long term, we’re looking forward to those children getting glasses and the support they need. We’ll be monitoring improvements and using stats like improved reading speed to help drum home the message of the importance of good vision in education.
We envisage that as soon as these students get glasses there will be a real jump in their academic ability and class teachers can help accelerate that further. There will of course be underachieving children who we thought had poor vision but don’t and we will now look for other causes to address those.
Partner with us!
If you’re a school and would like to partner with us and arrange a vision screening at your school please contact us!