Woodside Academy was delighted to host a visit from Sir David Evennett MP today.
The MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford came to the school to see pupils having their eyes tested by SeeAbility – a UK sight charity specialising in supporting people with learning disabilities or autism.
Located in Colyers Lane, Erith, Woodside Academy is a special school for 4-19-year-olds. Part of London South East Academies Trust, the school supports children and young people with ASD and moderate needs.
SeeAbility has been working with Woodside as part of NHS England’s programme to establish a Special Schools Eye Care Service. Woodside is one of 90 special schools across the country currently supporting the scheme - and it’s already having a fantastic impact.
This new NHS service aims to provide sight tests and glasses in the familiar and convenient environment of special schools. This has come after research by SeeAbility highlighted that half of children in special schools have a sight problem. Yet over four in ten children in special schools have never had a sight test before.
SeeAbility is now helping to introduce this pioneering service and was keen to showcase the positive impact it is having on children and families at Woodside Academy.
After a short tour of the school, Sir David was taken to the sight testing room to observe sight tests and glasses fittings, meeting the SeeAbility optometrist, dispensing optician, staff and children.
Speaking to Woodside Academy staff and children during his visit, Sir David Evennett said: “I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to visit Woodside Academy and meet with the dedicated staff and children. This is a brilliant school and an important part of our Bexley community.
“Regular eye examinations are so important, especially as having your vision corrected can significantly improve the quality of your day-to-day life. I was therefore pleased to have the opportunity to see first-hand the pioneering and very important work SeeAbility are doing in schools like Woodside Academy”.
Kathryn Freame, Head Teacher at Woodside Academy added: “We are delighted to host a visit for Sir David to see the important service SeeAbility is providing to our pupils here. Their Eye Clinics are extremely beneficial, enabling the children to have their eyes tested and glasses dispensed in a familiar environment, by an optometrist who understands their needs.
“This is having a such positive impact on our children, improving wellbeing, reading and communication. We are so proud of our school – pupils and staff - so today’s visit has been a great opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work being carried out every day to give the children the excellent education they deserve and to which they are entitled.”
Lisa Donaldson, Head of Eye Care and Vision at SeeAbility said: “We are so delighted to showcase this work with our colleagues at Woodside Academy. Thinking creatively about the way eye care services are delivered can mean everyone gets a more equal right to sight – this is so important for children with learning disabilities who are 28 times more likely to have a sight problem than other children.”
For more information about Woodside Academy and London South East Academies Trust, click here.
SeeAbility provides specialist support to enable people with learning disabilities, autism, and sight loss to achieve their ambitions and participate fully in society. It is also the only organisation leading on making eye care more accessible for people with learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have a sight problem than other children. More on SeeAbility’s work: https://www.seeability.org/eye-care.
In June 2021 SeeAbility was awarded the Overall Award for Excellence at the Charity Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious awards scheme in the charity sector for its work in special schools, and in May 2022 was a runner up at the NHS Improvement Awards for Improving Health Equity.
More information on the NHS Special Schools Eye Care Service can be found at here.