RNC students heading to university celebrate their results

Charlotte and Lorren in Performing Arts

With the release of the summer 2018 exam results, across the UK students from the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) are looking forward to university life. The Hereford-based College offers qualifications in a wide range of vocational and academic subjects, enabling students to choose the perfect combination to match their skills and ambitions.

Friends Lorren Wilde, 18, from Hereford, and Charlotte Milburn, 18, from County Durham, are both heading to York St John University to undertake degrees in Education Studies. The two bonded over their love of performing arts, which both intend to continue to pursue at university.

Lorren achieved a C grade in her AS Level History exams, an A* in her AS Level Extended Project and a Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools. In 2016 she achieved a double Merit grade in her BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts.

Charlotte, who was Chair of the RNC Student Representative Group, achieved a Grade C in her Psychology A Level, a D in AS Level Maths and a double Distinction* in her OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Performing Arts.

Both Charlotte and Lorren feel their time at RNC helped to prepare them for the transition to university. Charlotte said:

‘I don’t think I would have been able to navigate a busy city if I hadn’t done the training I did when I was at College. Having lived in halls already is going to help me. The independence skills. I’ve spoken to a few people I’m moving in with and they’re worrying about doing their own washing – I’ve got that covered. And moving in and not really knowing anybody. I’ve got that experience already so I feel like I’m a bit ahead of the game.’

For Lorren, being at RNC helped her to achieve her full potential:

‘When I was in mainstream high school I didn’t have the equipment I needed. I did well in my GCSEs but feel I could have done better. Going to RNC opened me up to the independence I could gain, and I could achieve my grades to the best of my abilities.’

Esther Venman, 17, from Wiltshire, is heading to Teeside University to study Concept Art after securing an A grade in her AS Level Extended Project and double Merit grades in OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Media. She said:

‘I feel absolutely amazing. I’m looking forward to everything. Learning new skills. Doing what I’ve wanted to do pretty much since I was 8 years old. RNC helped me to get my confidence, with my academics, and to get in to university.’

Ibz Iqbal, 20, from Birmingham lost his sight during his early teens and missed a lot of his secondary education. He joined RNC on a Level One programme, but after three years of hard work is heading to Liverpool University to study Psychology. Ibz, who achieved an A* in his AS Level Extended Project in Nutrition and C grades in his Psychology and Sociology AS Levels, received an unconditional offer from the popular university. He said:

‘I thought I was screwed when I lost my sight. When I came to RNC and saw what people could do it opened a whole focus and mindset for me. I didn’t really know many other visually impaired people. I was brought up in a sighted environment and went to mainstream school. At RNC I learned a lot from others. When I thought about A levels I didn’t think I was capable. Then I saw other people at RNC doing it and I wanted to try it – and I’m glad I did.’

Student Michal Wojcik, 19, from Thirsk, has also completed a remarkable journey. Michal first attempted AS Levels while losing his sight and achieved a D and a U. Last summer, after his first year at RNC, he gained A grades in three AS Levels. After another year of hard work he has secured full A Levels in Sociology (A*), Psychology (A*) and English Literature (A). Michal’s next step is planned but he is open to what the future will bring afterwards:

‘I’m going to go to Leeds Uni in September to study Philosophy and Psychology. Initially I was planning on just doing Psychology and being a psychologist or a counsellor, but I really like Philosophy and thought I’d go with my heart. I don’t have a career plan, I’m just going to do what I enjoy and see what happens.’

Reflecting on what he has learned at RNC he added: ‘For over a year and a half I’ve been cooking for myself every day, proper meals. I’ve learned to live independently and that’s an advantage I’ll have over most people at uni. I had my own kitchen in my second year and it taught me a lot of cooking skills and independence in general. I’m a lot more prepared for uni, its one less thing I have to worry about.’

Tiri Hughes, 18, from Devon, arrived at RNC with A* GCSEs in a wide range of subjects. She continued to excel, gaining A* grades in A Level Chemistry and Maths in 2017. This year she has added A* grades in A Level Psychology and Biology, along with grade A in AS level Further Mathematics, the highest score achievable in the subject. Her hard work has been rewarded with a place to study Medicine at Trinity College, Oxford.

She said: ‘RNC has given me the flexibility to spread my A Levels over three years and focus on areas such as mobility and independent living skills which are going to be important when I’m at university. I have been able to increase my confidence and now, going back into mainstream education, I know I can advocate for myself, speak up and ask for things. I remember coming to RNC three years ago and being asked what I wanted to do. Now that goal of going to Oxford to study Medicine has become a reality.’

As these stories show, every journey at RNC is different, because every student is different. All benefit from a core skills curriculum which ensures they not only succeed in their studies, but are able to pursue their dreams when they leave the College. Personalised training in IT, independent living, mobility and orientation and home cooking skills all help to prepare students for their next step.

Congratulations from everyone at RNC to the class of 2018 – we can’t wait to see what you do next!