RNC ambassadors promote specialist education rights

Our RNC ambassadors stand on stage, behind a large desk in front of a large projector screen, whilst delivering their presentation. Left to right – George Woodland stands holding his iPad, George Jones is clutching his notes on pieces of paper, Maisy has her iPad on the desk in front of her and Tiri is holding the microphone and reading from her iPad in front of her. The photo is taken from the audience and some students from other colleges are sitting, listening to the RNC presentation.

At RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), we were proud that four of our students acted as ambassadors at a recent Right Not A Fight event in Birmingham. Maisy McAdam, George Woodland and George Jones were eager to join Tiri Hughes, Chair of our student representative group, in a presentation about the benefits of specialist education settings and equal rights for those who have disabilities. They chose to talk about the importance of specialist education from their personal perspectives and why it is such a vital system academically, socially, and in preparation for the future.


Having had a good experience of primary mainstream schooling, Tiri talked how her secondary education support fell apart. She felt she had no choice but to study her A Levels elsewhere. “Unfortunately, my story is common to a large number of visually impaired students of all ages, as SEN provision for VI young people is rarely even adequate. At the RNC, the comparison is immeasurable. On arriving in lessons students are not only given accessible work, but choices!” Tiri went on to say “What was previously a battle for many of our students has become what it should be, a right. A right to access the curriculum just as any other student would, regardless of disability.”


Maisy highlighted the social aspects and the confidence that comes with being able to be open about who you are, your personal interests as well as the opportunities that have come about because of being at the College, for example she was able to attend a Right Not a Fight demonstration at Westminster last summer. The two Georges concentrated on the independence gained within a specialist residential setting: from braille to mobility, cooking to washing. As George Woodland said, “These things may sound simple to some people but to students of the RNC, they are challenges that we successfully overcome and achieve on a regular basis.”


Other colleges also gave presentations, demonstrating the key experiences people have in all settings. A common theme was the independence and confidence gained by so many students in specialist education. The significance of understanding and well-trained staff was paramount in aiding students to gain living skills as well as academic and vocational educations of merit. The event was organised by NATSPEC, (The Association of National Specialist Colleges). The students were joined by a representative of the NUS (National Union for Students) who are proactively engaging with students of all disabilities at both college and university level to be a fair and representative body.


If you’re interested in finding out more about RNC, please call our student enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email us; info@rnc.ac.uk


Article written by Anika Backhouse, PR, Publications & Outreach Officer at RNC


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