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The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is a charity and membership body of and for blind people, and those with sight problems.

The organisation’s need

Teaching assistants play a vital role in the education of children with visual impairment, but RNIB was finding it increasingly difficult to continue to run its in-house specialist training course for these assistants. Having staff take time out of work to attend several days’ training was a problem for the organisation and its staff.

The Open University’s solution

Working with RNIB, we transformed the organisation's training material to create an RNIB-branded online course.

The ‘Partners in Learning’ course equips teaching assistants – as well as teachers, support workers and early years practitioners - with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide a high level of education for young learners.

The course, which is accredited as a BTEC advanced certificate at Level 3, is the only UK-wide accredited training designed for education support staff working with blind and partially sighted learners. In recognition of its excellence, several local authorities have made Partners in Learning a mandatory qualification for teaching assistants employed in their visual impairment support services.

Partners in Learning is studied over a calendar year and is predominantly delivered online, thereby resolving the problem of time being taken out of the workplace for training.

Organisational outcome

RNIB hailed this business solution as providing ‘greatly improved availability and content’ for its teaching assistants.

The course is clearly very practical and motivating. A further 'spin off' of is that many of the newly acquired skills and knowledge have been shared in a very positive way with other teaching and support staff.

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