Ella excels in exams in spite of failing eyesight
A Herne Bay High School pupil who is registered blind has overcome adversity with a stunning set of GCSE results.
Ella Eastwood achieved three As, including an A* in religious studies, plus a 7 in English literature and a 6 in maths.
The 16-year-old suffers with degenerative eye disease Stargardt, which means she can see outlines of people and objects but no other detail unless she is incredibly close to them.
“I can’t see a person’s features or the colour of someone’s hair,” she said.
The first signs of the condition emerged when Ella was seven and living in Tenerife.
She moved back to the UK and was later referred to the QEQM in Margate, but baffled medics could not work out what was causing her bad eyesight.
“They thought I was making it up,” she said. “I’d had so many tests and after a year of not believing me I was finally referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
Within five hours of being seen, Ella, then aged 11, received the shattering diagnosis and was told there was no cure.
“My eyesight stayed the same for a while but over the last 18 months it has really deteriorated,” she said.
The timing could not have been worse in the run-up to her exams, but the plucky teenager, who has five brothers and sisters, did not let it stop her.
She added: “The school have been brilliant and I could not have asked for more.”
Teachers were especially helpful when Ella discovered only one exam board would blow up the text to 36 points so she could read the paper clearly.
Staff ensured they enlarged all her other texts and made sure adequate reading and revision material was always available.
Ella plans to stay on in the sixth form in a bid to achieve her dream of studying history at university .
In the meantime, she will be kept busy with the National Citizen Service, which arranges outdoor activities in collaboration with social enterprise schemes and charities.
She also regularly raises funds for Kent Association for the Blind and Catching Lives.
Aside from Ella’s fantastic results, a host of other talented pupils at the school were also celebrating impressive grades.
Nathan Jones, who achieved grade 8 in maths, and Jasmine Amos, who achieved the same score in English.
Further along the coast at The Community College Whitstable, star performer was Courtney Firminger, with a 7 and 8 in maths and English, and A and A* grades in fine art, science, ICT and food technology.
Dylan Small bagged three As in the sciences, as well as an 8 in maths, while Oscar Jackson secured a grade 8 in maths and an A for computer science.
Head teacher Ana Gibson says the results demonstrate that the school is moving in the right direction and has a solid platform for further improvement.
Ella Eastwood celebrates her exam results
Whitstable Academy students are celebrating