The Royal National College for the Blind

Mission Statement

To enable people who are blind or partially sighted, including those who have additional disabilities, to achieve their potential and engage fully in their community.

How we support your child's learning

We encourage parents to join potential students on a tour of the College, and to attend the Pre-Entry Assessment. This gives an opportunity to meet a range of teaching and residential staff and to get a strong sense of the support available. Students too play a vital role in their pre-entry assessment process; it is a two-way process which depends on the engagement of students (and parents) and understanding of their future aspirations and plans.

We run a New Student Conference each July where parents can have one-to-one meetings with staff from any area of the College and meet those who will be delivering each part of the student's programme.

The parents of students who are aged 16-18 are encouraged to attend reviews and are kept informed of any significant issues with behaviour or attendance, and actions being taken. Those students who are over 18 years of age have the option to invite their parents/carers should they wish. In addition, all Careers Advisers and funding authorities are invited to individual student reviews to ensure good information exchange. Clear lines of communication with parents, carers or guardians are established prior to the commencement of placement.

Accessibility of our service

The whole of our campus is highly accessible. During our pre-entry assessment process we discuss any specific access requirements with the young person. This means that they can be fully considered and met before they start their time at RNC. Both our teaching and residential accommodation is modern and fully adapted for our client base. This does not just include education and living areas, but also our fully accessible sport and recreation centre, which offers a wealth of opportunities not usually available for blind and partially sighted students. There are hoisting facilities in the college hydropool and spa areas and the college gym includes accessible equipment for wheelchair users. All of our buildings have been designed or adapted to provide support for those with a visual impairment, such as textured surfacing and colour contrasting. We are also able to support those with additional disabilities, including wheelchair users. Examples include our independent living skills kitchen, which has a unit which can be raised or lowered to the best height for the student. Our residential accommodation includes a range of fully adapted self-contained en-suite rooms. Our provision also includes vehicles such as a minibus with wheelchair access.

How we identify SEN

All students at RNC have a visual impairment. Our staff are specialist in this field and every aspect of our work is geared towards providing the highest standards of support and engagement our learners. A large proportion of our students have additional needs such as a hearing impairment, autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Our students' visual impairments include conditions which have been present from birth and those which have developed in their teens due to an accident, injury or genetic condition. Some students are completely blind while others have some degree of sight and are affected by specific symptoms such as double or tunnel vision, visual distortion, night blindness or reduced depth perception.

During our Pre-Entry Assessment process we discuss each student's individual needs in detail. We revisit this when they arrive to start their studies. From this point on they receive a personalised support programme which is designed to meet their own needs and to help them achieve their goals. We work with our students from day one to make sure that they have exactly the right level of support, at a pace that suits them. Changes to programmes are not uncommon but they have to be linked to meaningful progression and to match students' future plans.

How we support your child/young person

Each class is typically taught by one teacher. We support students to study independently rather than using personal learning assistants. However, in foundation learning activities there is typically one learning assistant to provide additional support to the group. In some sessions teachers may also be supported by vetted volunteers with appropriate skills. Students with complex needs will also have a personal care supporter.

Most sessions are small groups sized between two and eight. We can also offer some one-to-one teaching where this has been identified as being required for an individual student

How we match the curriculum to your child's needs

RNC's entire curriculum and learning environment is designed for those with a visual impairment. This means that having a visual impairment is the norm rather than something which can make the young person feel isolated or different from their peers.

Each student's study programme is designed to meet their personal needs, and to be responsive to their visual impairment. In addition to their chosen subjects it will include mobility, independent living skills and sessions which help them prepare fore life after college.

We provide personalised support packages for our learners. Each student is taught using their preferred working medium, such as braille, JAWS, SuperNova or ZoomText. When students arrive without a working medium, or are struggling with their current approach, we work with them to try different alternatives and develop a system that works for them.

Students are assessed by a low vision specialist on arrival. Ongoing support with any visual aids and packages is provided throughout their time at RNC.

We offer courses at a range of levels, from foundation through to Level 3. Academic or vocational studies are complemented by a personal programme of mobility, independent living skills and IT. Students then have the opportunity to practice their new skills in this area with the support of Residential Support Officers in the halls of residence and through evening and weekend activities. This helps to embed their learning and increase their personal confidence.

The support we give to your child's well being

Our team of Residential Support Officers provides welfare support to students in their halls of residence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A 24 hour safeguarding on call manager is available to support staff with any welfare concerns.

We have a Wellbeing Support team who provide personal care and enabling support which includes manual handling. Students with complex needs will have a dedicated Personal Care Assistant. Residential Support teams provide regular supervision around the clock. In the event of a student requiring regular supervision on medical grounds that prevent study, we will support them to return home until they are able to resume their studies.

We also have a team of Registered Nurses who are experienced with administering prescribed medication, gastric feeding and responding to medical emergencies. Our nurses also cover such areas as sexual education, nutritional advice and lifestyle management. Across the College we have a large number of trained first aiders who support off-site education, sporting activities and the wide variety of extra curricular provision we offer. We also offer a confidential counselling service to all students. In addition we have an arrangement with a local ophthalmologist who visits regularly.

Every student is allocated a group tutor. This system means that students feel supported and encouraged when things are going well, but also have someone on hand to offer help when it is needed. We take attendance and behaviour very seriously and monitor them closely. A student status meeting is held once a week which allows issues to be spotted early and the right support offered to help the student get back on track. Careful management and early intervention helps to ensure that issues are identified and resolved quickly.

The expertise we have access to

As a specialist college offering residential placements to young people who have a visual impairment, our services are specifically designed to make sure that the right support is in place for students from day one. We are a one-stop shop, able to meet each student's full range of needs on site.

During the Pre-Entry Assessment we discuss the support that they will require on joining RNC. This gives us time to ensure that everything is in place for their first day. The support package is regularly reviewed in discussion with the student and is adapted to meet their changing needs during their time with us.

Teaching staff are trained in the use of different assistive technologies. Many staff learn braille. All staff are trained in sighted guiding, safeguarding, e-safety and equality and diversity awareness. A range of additional training is provided throughout the year, for example supporting students with autism, acquired brain injury or other complex conditions. By providing ongoing training and sharing expertise we have developed a highly skilled workforce with vast experience of supporting young people with a visual impairment.

In addition to all teaching staff holding recognised qualifications, we run a bespoke Certificate in Higher Education (Working With People With a Visual Impairment), which many undertake.

Residential staff hold a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care. In addition we employ fully qualified Nurses, Wellbeing Officers and Counsellors. All staff have regular performance reviews, which help to ensure that their skills stay up to date and they have the necessary qualifications for their roles.

How we include your child in extra curricular activities

All students are able to access to a full range of activities.

We have a fully accessible sports centre which includes a public and a student gym, a spa and a hydropool. A range of fitness classes are available. Through our Sports Academy students can play football, goalball, boccia, netball and cricket. We are also able to make arrangements for individual students to pursue their own sporting interests such as cycling, acoustic shooting, gymnastics, athletics and horse riding.

Many areas of the College offer out of hours clubs which allow those who are not studying a particular subject to get involved in their own time for fun. This includes performing arts, art, languages, photography and IT. We also participate in the Young Enterprise Scheme. Activities are run on campus throughout the term and students have their own spaces to relax in the student snug and the student bar.

We also offer off-campus activities such as shopping trips, country walks, a dining club and trips to places of interest, including educational trips and exchanges as we have links with similar colleges in France and Germany.

For the more adventurous we offer the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, which includes weekend camping activities, and many students take place in an annual challenge event in the local Black Mountains. Many RNC students enjoy the opportunity to get involved in fundraising activities and we support them in taking part in challenge events such as abseiling, parachute jumps and firewalks.

We are passionate about giving young people with a visual impairment the opportunity to get involved in the kind of activities which their sighted peers enjoy. We have thorough safeguarding and risk assessment processes in place to support students when they are off-campus. This enables them to stretch their wings and try new things, building their confidence and preparing them for the future.

How we prepare your child to join us or transfer to another setting

We help our students to prepare for life after RNC from their first day. Their future ambitions are discussed at Pre-Entry Assessment and we work with them to put together a timetable that will help them achieve them.

All students undertake work experience and receive ongoing support in writing CVs, researching and applying for jobs and interview practice. Many students have work-based learning incorporated in to their studies, giving them a wealth of practical experience to add to their academic and vocational qualifications. We have links with the National Careers Service, who run on-campus clinics throughout the year. Our transitions team is on hand throughout the year to provide advice and guidance and to signpost students towards the information they need to make decisions about their future.

Students who intend to move in to higher education are given the opportunity to visit universities and supported through the application process.

We run a DSA assessment centre on campus which helps to ensure a smooth transition for students continuing with their education or entering the workplace.

Studying independent living skills, mobility and IT helps to prepare students for adult life, giving them the confidence to thrive in a sighted world.

How we match our resources to your child

Because we are a specialist college each student's full needs are assessed at Pre-Entry stage and a personalised package is agreed with their local authority. This will cover every aspect of their support including teaching but residential support, nursing care and wellbeing. We provide specialist equipment and technology as standard.

How we involve parents

As a national college our students are drawn from across the country, so there are few opportunities for parents to get together as a group. However we do provide regular updates on activities and encourage parents to join us for student performances and awards ceremonies. We also provide support to a Parent Network which gives parents the opportunity to keep in touch with each other, and to offer support in turn to the parents of incoming students.

How we include your child in the planning of their support

Students are involved in planning from the first day. Their Pre-Entry Assessment is an opportunity for them to meet with tutors and support workers from across the College in one-to-one meetings and to discuss their aspirations. Working with their group tutor and residential support officer gives them regular opportunities to consider their plans and check their progress against their personal goals.

The student voice is heard throughout the College. A student sits on our Board of Governors. Each hall of residence nominates members of the Student Representative Group, which meets regularly with senior staff to share the views of students on everything from the strategic direction of the College to day to day issues. A Student Catering Committee meets with our catering providers to consult on the menu and quality of facilities. An annual student survey captures opinions on the student experience.

Students receive regular updates on College news from the Principal and have their own electronic noticeboard system for exchanging information, questions and ideas.

General Contact Information

If you are interested in attending RNC, or in finding out more about what we can offer, the best place to start is our Enquiries team. We can answer any questions you may have, arrange for a tour of the college and explain the application process. We also organise events such as Have A Go weekends, which are free to attend and give potential students the chance to get a taste of what life at RNC will be like. Call 01432 376 621 or email

If you have already applied to RNC, have questions relating to a family member who is studying here or are funding a student at the College, the please contact our Registry team. They can also answer detailed questions about funding. Call 01432 265 725 or email

Both teams act as a gateway to other areas of the College for more specific enquiries.

Contact for more information

Alena Critoph
Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DT
01432 265725
01432 842 979

Record Last Reviewed On: 19/01/2016