‘It was the first time she ever felt nor­mal’

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - FURTHER -

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.

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