Blind schoolgirl makes the grade
9:02am Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
A BLIND schoolgirl is celebrating topping the GCSE exam charts – in a mainstream school – despite a lack of funding preventing specialist education.
Lela Patterson (ok), 16, who has been blind since birth - achieved 10 GCSEs following her studies at Barry’s Bryn Hafren comprehensive.
The former Gladstone primary pupil will now go to New College Worcester - for the blind and partially sighted – to continue her education where she hopes to develop life and social skills, mix with people facing similar experiences and further her love of languages.
As well as being blind Lela also underwent surgery to straighten out her feet as she was beginning her qualification quest two years ago.
Grandmother Janet Burbidge said the family had applied for Welsh Government funding for Lela to have specialist education three times but were turned down each time.
However Mardy Smith, principal of New College, Worcester, stepped in to fight on Lela’s behalf and the youngster will now attend the college and also get a visiting Welsh tutor so that she can continue the subject at a higher level.
Lela scored GCSEs in subjects which included Welsh, Spanish, French, English language and literature, maths, applied science, religious studies and music and also gained the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.
And she hopes eventually to become a language interpreter.
Lela, a big fan of the boy band One Direction, also enjoys listening to JLS, Rhianna and Jason Derulo and going out with her Barnardo’s support worker Justine. She said: “I’m so overwhelmed. I worked really hard, but it was hard.
“I read and write in Braille and I have a talking laptop, but not at home.
“I struggled, but I am pleased my work has paid off.
“I’m just so excited to go to college and I’m looking forward to it.
“Without the funding I would have had to come back to Bryn Hafren, but when I got the funding I was overjoyed.”
Grandmother Janet, who cares for Lela while her brother and sister live next door with her deaf mother, is proud of Lela's achievements.
She said. “I’m so happy that she’s now going where she wanted to go in Year 7 and she will now get living skills. We haven’t had any funding for two years for living skills.”
Bryn Hafren head teacher Phil Whitcombe said: “Lela is a delightful young lady who also works as hard as she possibly can.
“We wish her every success and we know she will do wonderfully.
“The staff had to adapt – it’s a different way of teaching so that the class is engaged and Lela is engaged, but she’s done so well.”