New College Worcester (NCW), Whittington Road, Worcester, WR5 2JX
Amber (18) is a current student at New College Worcester.
She has Alstrom syndrome, which is a very rare genetic condition. One of the main features of this condition is deterioration of eyesight.
Amber joined New College in Year 12 and has since completed her A-Levels – she is soon venturing off to University to study History!
We took the opportunity to speak with Amber about what life was like in mainstream school with visual impairment, and how life has been since moving to New College Worcester.
“I found mainstream school very challenging on a daily basis.” Amber explained. “It was hard to socialise as I just didn’t have anything in common with my peers. There was also a big lack of appropriate support, understanding, and it was difficult to get things adapted for my needs. I very much had to self-advocate.”
Amber had to do her GCSE’s with very limited support as there was no longer a teaching assistant, and completing written exams were just not accessible. “I was terrified of my exams. I knew that I couldn’t continue feeling this way and facing the challenges that I did”
“I’ve always known about NCW – I knew that I wanted to go and it was the right place for me. I was delighted when I had my assessment in Year 11.”
Upon Amber’s move to New College Worcester from London, she recalls, “Although I would be away from my family, I felt good about moving away from home and it was a new start for me. I knew I would get the support I needed and the facilities to help me get to where I wanted to be academically.”
Now, two years on, Amber can’t believe what a big impact NCW has had on her life. “I just feel more ‘normal’ here – it is great to be around likeminded people and be able to speak openly about my condition. I also have much more freedom to be independent, which in turn has made me feel more confident. I am even Head Girl this year!”
Amber explained how in particular her touch typing has really improved. She has been able to complete exams on her laptop which she can read easily using inverse colours.
When asked to describe what the best thing about New College is – she said, “That’s a hard question because there are so many brilliant things about it but mainly the people and having so much independence. I enjoy cooking on my own and I even attended university open days independently.”
Amber is really excited about the future and is even talking about the possibilities of travelling. She begins an exciting new chapter in her life in September 2019 as she starts university to study History.
“I do feel nervous about leaving, but also excited. I’m going to live in Halls of Residence, which is much like how I live now at New College. I feel that I have had the help and support to prepare me for life after college, and I definitely feel confident to cope with situations that I previously haven’t been able to.”
We wish you the best of luck, Amber!