The role of Qualified Teachers for Children who are Multi-Sensory Impaired (QTMSI)

The following statement represents Sense's position on appropriate qualification levels for education professionals providing support to children with multi-sensory impairment (MSI).

BackgroundChild learning

It is estimated that there are 4,000 children and young people with MSI living in the UK. MSI makes a significant difference to children and young people's learning and development. Most will have difficulties with accessing information about what is happening around them. They are likely to struggle with communication, forming relationships and mobility. The level of difficulty they experience will depend on the extent to which they have some useful hearing and vision.

Mandatory qualification

To teach a class of pupils with hearing impairment (HI), vision impairment (VI), or multi-sensory impairment (MSI), a teacher must hold a mandatory qualification.  The Mandatory Qualification is part of the statutory requirements for qualified teacher status set out in The Education (School Teachers' Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2003.  Qualified teachers carry out a central role in the education of children and young people with sensory impairments from birth, working in homes, early years settings, schools and post 16 settings. 

The role of specialist teachers

Children with MSI face unique challenges to learning which can only be addressed by specialist knowledge and understanding. Sense considers that all children and young people with MSI must receive specialist educational support from a qualified teacher of children and young people with MSI (QTMSI). Professionals working in advisory or peripatetic roles should also hold the appropriate mandatory qualification.

Depending on the exact nature of the child's vision and hearing impairments it may also be necessary to involve qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVI) and qualified teachers of children with a hearing impairment (QTHI).

The importance of mandatory qualified teachers is set out in the statutory SEND Code of Practice guidance which states: 

"Schools should work closely with the local authority and other providers to agree the range of local services and clear arrangements for making appropriate requests. This might include schools commissioning specialist services directly. Such specialist services include, but are not limited to…specialist teachers or support services, including specialist teachers with a mandatory qualification for children with hearing and vision impairment, including multi-sensory impairment, and for those with a physical disability.  Those teaching classes of children with sensory impairment must hold an appropriate qualification approved by the Secretary of State. Teachers working in an advisory role to support such pupils should also hold the appropriate qualification."

(Para 6.61, SEND Code of Practice, 2014).

The Regulations state that where a teacher has been appointed and is in the process of obtaining the mandatory qualification, they should complete their QTMSI training in a period of time that does not exceed three years.

In order to protect the rights of children with MSI to high quality education, Sense maintains that schools and local authorities should apply the following principles and practices:

  • All children with MSI receive support from teachers who hold the mandatory qualification in MSI, and from QTVI and QTHI, where appropriate.

  • The caseloads of these teachers are managed in order that they are able to support these children appropriately.

  • QTMSIs work closely with schools or settings to ensure that children's needs are met through joint planning which encourages inclusive teaching and learning approaches.

  • QTMSIs advise on and oversee the implementation of strategies to promote children's social inclusion.

  • QTMSIs are involved in a planned approach over time to reducing adult support in favour of strategies which promote independent learning.

  • QTMSIs maintain close contact with families as a source of ongoing advice and to make sure that expectations and approaches are consistent between home and school.

  • During the period of qualification, QTMSIs should have access to a mentor with qualifications and experience in MSI.

For more information please contact Sense's Children's Specialist Services team:; Tel: 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972

First published: Monday 12 October 2015
Updated: Tuesday 4 July 2017