Studying A Levels in the great outdoors!

Photo taken in a field with lots of grass on the floor and trees in the foreground. There is a long piece of tape on the floor (the line transect) and students Tiri and Emma can be seen in the distance with their clipboards, making notes.

At RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we know that life skills are not just built in the classroom; skills gained outside the classroom can be just as important to help our students understand the world around them.


Before coming to RNC many students faced the problem that they did not have the option to access certain elements of the curriculum; sport, performing arts and the sciences are common subjects where they tend to miss out. RNC Principal Mark Fisher explains “Our students often express that they were discouraged from taking particular subjects at mainstream. Here, we have small class sizes and teachers who are experts in working with students who have visual impairment so we try our very best to risk assess our students into activities and lessons, not risk assess them out.”


Small class sizes are one of the key advantages of coming to RNC, there are typically 2-5 students per class which allows our teachers to focus more time on the students in that class, understanding their individual needs and supporting them in all aspects of their learning. A Level Biology Teacher Annie Cook adds “The practical experiments give students a real flavour of what the course is really about and it’s so useful getting out of the classroom.”


Students Tiri and Emma are in a field, kneeling on the grass. They are each holding a clip board to take down notes from their experiment.Last term Biology students Emma Bains and Tiri Hughes had a practical session at Madley Environmental Study Centre as part of the Biodiversity unit, which focusses on the variety of plant and animal life in particular habitats. Annie Cook explains “During the trip the girls set up quadrats, which are frames to measure the biodiversity in each part of the meadow. They used a line transect to analyse how the biodiversity changes every 5 metres and the different factors that affect it such as sunshine and woods and what water sources are available and understanding how this will change throughout the year. Being able to have the freedom to go out and do outdoor experiments in the field really helps to put the theory into context.”


If you are interested in finding out more about the courses on offer at RNC please call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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