Sensory Teaching Advisory and Resources Service (Visually Impaired)

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 children and young people who have been diagnosed with a visual impairment. We aim to ensure that all children reach their academic potential, and are active members of society.

Our staff help children, their parents, and adults who work with the child to understand the visual impairment, and how it may affect the child’s day to day life, both at home and at school. They are teachers with specialist training in supporting children who are blind  or visually impaired, or specially trained staff who work on habilitation, mobility and access to information technology.

How do I get support?

The service has an open referral system. After working with a child and assessing their vision, we'll use nationally-agreed criteria to decide on a suitable level of support. 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 taken on 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 work with babies, children and young people aged 0 – 25. 

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

For more information about the criteria for support please use the link to NatSip below

Jill Patterson

Children’s Service for the Visually Impaired

Sensory Support Centre

Whinney Banks Primary School

Fakenham Avenue


TS5 4QQ      TEL: 01642 354353       Email:

Local Offer

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

Page last reviewed: 20/08/2020


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