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Glasses in Classes

Friday, 12 July 2019
Glasses in Classes: Visualising Dysfunction in Education

A new ground-breaking project will look to increase the number of young children who need glasses to wear them, with the aim of improving their academic, social and emotional learning long-term.

In the UK, health services screen for vision problems in reception year and share results with parents, but not schools. Approximately 15% of students fail the screening and roughly a third do not obtain the glasses or the prescription needed. Even if a student does receive glasses, they may be broken, lost, or not worn in school.

A new study – ‘Glasses in Classes’ - led by Professor Roisin Corcoran, Chair in Education at the University of Nottingham, involves the first ever UK study to test the impact of a school-based intervention to support the wearing of glasses in young children and measure subsequent improvement of the child’s academic achievement and health including vision.  

The vision screening results will be shared with schools, and staff will be trained to support students and their families to get glasses and encourage students to wear them, funding will also be provided for a second pair of glasses for students to keep at school.

This project is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The implementation involves a collaboration between the NHS Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and the University of Leeds.

Professor Roisin Corcoran, the principal investigator from the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, said: “Solving vision difficulties is not simply an issue of screening students or providing glasses. In the UK, NHS guidance entitles all children to a free eye examination and provides funding to cover the cost of glasses. Cost therefore does not appear to be a significant barrier in accessing children’s eye care.

"However, if schools had access to vision screening results, and resources to remedy vision problems, for example a spare of glasses made available in school, they could help ensure that children who need glasses receive and wear them. A school-based intervention may lead to significant positive improvements in students’ academic achievement, especially in disadvantaged communities where access to eye care services tends to be limited.”

The evaluation of the intervention involves a rigorous 100 school randomised controlled trial study to examine the impact of the Glasses in Classes intervention on academic achievement and visual acuity. The evaluation will also examine whether the school-based intervention improved adherence to glasses wear. The process evaluation will examine whether the intervention was implemented as intended.

The failure to keep glasses on children’s faces reveals unsettling facts about dysfunction in education. Schools are accountable for children’s academic, social and emotional learning. Yet, correcting vision problems is not part of the mission of schools. Ample time and financial resources are devoted to mathematics and reading recovery interventions, while some children just need an inexpensive pair of glasses. If successful, this study will lay the foundation for reforming practices in schools and national education policy.”
Professor Roisin Corcoran

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Corcoran, University of Nottingham at roisin.corcoran@nottingham.ac.uk

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