STARS (Sight Loss)

STARS logo

What is the Sensory Teaching, Advisory and Resources Service? (STARS)

The Service is a service funded by the council to provide support for leaners who have been diagnosed with sight loss – sometimes referred to as a visual impairment. We aim to ensure that all learners reach their academic potential, and are active members of society.

Early identification of need and effective early intervention provide leaners with the best opportunity to reach their full potential. STARS staff help learners, their parents, and adults who work with the learner to understand the visual impairment identified, and how it may affect the learner’s day to day life, both at home and at school. Staff are specifically trained to support learners with sight loss. A learner on our caseload may receive support through interventions for habilitation, mobility or access to information technology.

How do I get support?

The service has an open referral system. After an initial specialist assessment a nationally agreed criteria indicates the level of support needed. If you think your child, or you are a teacher working with a child who, seems to have difficulties with accessing text or has nystagmus (wobbly eyes) please contact us to see if we can help.

The level of support can vary from weekly visits to the home to help develop vision in young babies, through to termly visits into school to ensure that teachers are aware of any adaptations that are needed to help with access.

There are also specialist resource provisions available at primary and secondary age for those children who may need a tactile curriculum.

What support and groups are available?

We run a regular parent and toddler group to give support and advice to parents, as well as a social group for 8 -13 year olds to help develop social skills and awareness of their peers across the Teesside area.

Children are frequently invited to participate in residential activities to help develop their independence and life experiences.

Support to help develop independent living skills is provided by a habilitation officer, who will visit homes and schools to make sure they are suitable and safe, and also work with individuals to help them overcome any difficulties.

An IT advisor and specialist support officer will work with children and schools to help them develop access to technology.        

Who to contact

Contact Name
01642 354353 01642 354353
STARS on Middlesbrough Council website
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Where to go

Sensory Teaching, Advisory and Resources Service
Sensory Support Centre
Whinney Banks Primary School
Fakenham Avenue
Fakenham Avenue
View TS5 4QQ on a map


Referral required
Referral Details

All our Qualified teachers of the Visually Impaired (QToVI) work with learners from birth through to age 25 years. 

It is important that after clinical diagnosis an early referral is made, as this will enable the service to support parents, observe behaviour, and offer practical advice and signpost to other agencies and support groups.

After a visual function assessment within the home, early years or educational setting appropriate levels of involvement will be determined by using the NatSIP Eligibility Criteria, (national standardised criteria for scoring support levels).


Criteria for Referral to all Regional Services

  • Visual acuities of 6/18 or worse, after optical correction.
  • Near vision recorded as N12 or worse, after optical correction.
  • Visual field problems such as hemianopia, tunnel vision, monocular vision and children with a prosthesis.
  • Severe difficulty with colour discrimination/confusion, e.g. red/green colour blindness.
  • Photophobia
  • Specific degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Nystagmus
  • Severe eye movement abnormality
  • A Cerebral Visual Impairment

Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
5 -11 Years
11 -16 Years
16 -19 Years
SEN Provision Type

Page last reviewed: 22/12/2021


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