‘It was the first time she ever felt normal’
It will be a red letter day for Alicia Jackson when she finally starts at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) next month.
After struggling to cope at a mainstream school sixth-form, she hoped to move to the RNC in September 2015, but Cumbria County Council instead offered her a place at a local FE college.
The 19-year-old, who is visually impaired, did not return for her second year and received no education at all during 2016-17. Funding for her to start at RNC this September was finally confirmed after her family hired a specialist lawyer to help.
The RNC programme will teach Jackson skills she was unable to learn at the local GFE college, including reading Braille and using a white stick. However, the drawn-out fight with the local authority has taken its toll, says Jackson. “[The council] said they had no resource available. They said everything could be provided in-county, but we knew that wasn’t the case.
I was upset most nights,” she explains.
Her mother, Linda Jackson, says that giving up had never been an option.
“The very first time we went to the college, Alicia said to me afterwards that it had been the first time she ever felt normal. That was that. She just had to go.”
Cumbria County Council was asked for comment.