Children in Norwich and Breckland to be given free pairs of glasses

Almost 18,000 people in Norfolk are at risk of losing their sight due to diabetes, research claims.

The scheme is being extended to Norwich and Breckland. - Credit: Archant 2013

A trial will see youngsters in Norwich and Breckland given free glasses in a bid to improving reading and writing by tackling poor eyesight.

The Glasses in Classes scheme will give two free pairs of glasses to children who need them in a bid to improve literacy.

It began in Bradford and has been extended to five areas around the country, including Breckland and Norwich.

Data shows 30pc of pupils who need glasses have not been to an optician, and that disadvantaged children are less likely to get, or wear, glasses they need.

The scheme is being extended and adapted under the Opportunity Area programme. It is aimed to reach 9,000 pupils in at least 225 schools.

Children identified as needing glasses will receive one pair for home and one for school, helping them concentrate in the classroom and improve their literacy skills.

Ofsted inspector in classroom

It will see children who need them give two pairs of glasses. - Credit: PA

Nadhim Zahawi, education secretary, said: “As a young boy shortly after arriving in this country, I sat at the back of the classroom with poor language skills and low confidence, struggling to engage with my lessons.

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“Back then, I could never have dreamt of the opportunities this country would give me and I am determined to help every young person overcome obstacles, just as I was supported.

“Too many children still struggle with the literacy skills they need to make the most of their education. Simple steps like providing free glasses to those that need them so they can clearly see words on a page, for example, can help close the literacy gap and foster a love of learning.”

The project was first developed by the Bradford Opportunity Area, and was expanded in 2019.

This latest expansion aims to support other areas facing similar challenges and to close the attainment gap that persists between some children and their more affluent peers.

Schools do not usually get the results of vision screenings that pupils take in reception class but, during the pilot, these results were shared with staff in schools so they knew which pupils and families to support.

Nadhim Zahawi

New education secretary Nadhim Zahawi. - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

Children are already entitled to free NHS sight tests and vouchers to help with the cost of glasses, but this trial gives them two pairs for free.

The Norwich Opportunity Area first began in 2017 as, at the time, a £6m project to improve fortunes of the city's young people. It has been expanded since.


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