Thanks to the Virtual School

I stood there in the doorway, butterflies in my stomach and I took a moment to reflect. When I came into care at the age of nine I could barely read or write.

My journey here, to this point, has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. The baggage I came with and couldn’t shake, the anger, the tears of frustration and despair, the happiness, the joy and the pride.

I remembered the butterflies in my stomach on August the 23rd as I held my brown envelope, surrounded by people screaming, shouting, laughing and crying as they discovered their GCSE results. I started to panic because I knew I needed certain grades if I was going to realise my ambition to become a nurse.

My Mum (Foster) was waiting outside and I didn’t want to let her down even though she always said that it didn’t matter what the results were, it was my journey that made the difference and as long as I tried my best she was proud of me.

The Virtual School has supported me every step of my journey. When I struggled they provided tutors to give me that extra help and without that I could not even imagine taking GCSEs. They made revising slightly easier once I acknowledged I needed that extra help and the tutors were great and I loved every minute of it – even Physics!

My Foster family were always there supporting and encouraging me, even when I knew I was being quite horrible to them. After I had sat the exams, I felt like I could finally breathe again. I knew that I had put my full effort into the exams and the revision that went with it. My Mum (Foster) however didn’t allow me to just relax – she had organised work experience in a nursery for a week and signed me up for National Citizen Service.

For five weeks I forgot GCSEs and focused on me – facing new challenges, building new friendships, learning new skills - a fantastic experience. I took a deep breath and tore open my envelope and felt in an instant happiness and then despair. My Mum (Foster) looked at my results and hugged me and I saw in her face how proud she was. 7 GCSEs – 5 6s and 2 4s but I had just focused on the one I had failed which I needed for Photography A Level at my current school.

She picked me up and help me realise how proud I should be of my achievement. I had made it into 6th form. I have learnt that when you are faced with setbacks there are always other opportunities which open up. My Foster family helped me take ownership of my initial disappointment, to focus on the positives and push myself outside my comfort zone.

I applied for different A Level options at different schools and was accepted by one which allowed me to follow my interest in Photography, as well as Medical Sciences and Geography at A-Level. I could also study Drama.

I could not have reached this point without the support and encouragement of my Foster family and the Virtual School. I am happy and proud of what I have achieved. Some of my achievements that the virtual school has helped me with - 7 GCSEs, Level 1 Flute, Level 4 in Climbing and numerous badges and certificates for swimming and challenges through Guides.

I am happy to say I am attending 6th form. It is very different to school. You are not spoon-fed information, you are expected to work more independently, which is a bit of a shock and there is a step up in terms of the work needed. You are given more responsibility for learning, but you are studying subjects that you enjoy. Teachers talk to you as adults and you’re expected to behave as such. It is fun being able to dress how I want each day and I enjoy dressing up in business smart clothes on Fridays.

So here I stand, the butterflies this time are excitement and anticipation, looking forward to facing the challenge of a new school and a whole new type of learning. It’s down to me now. I confidently pull open the door and enter.

My school story

In 2017 I joined All Saints Junior School. I moved from my old school and joined the year 6 at All Saints School. It was a little weird at first but everyone was really kind.

The good thing about it was the learning. Initially, it was hard to get into friendship groups because everyone else had formed friendship groups but eventually I made really good friends that I still stay in touch with some times.

My teacher was really supportive of me and my headteacher wasn’t sure I would do well but I did really well. In May 2018, I had one of the biggest tests in my school years “MY SATs”. I got greater depth in all my subjects and I got full marks in SPaG.

My headteacher was very pleased with my results and supported me in getting into my new school.

I had to do the entrance test for Leighton Park School which I passed but they didn’t tell me my score. That was my final year in primary school. The transition was really smooth to LP. Leighton Park is a big school that is rated outstanding. A new Music Centre is being built and almost finished. I can’t wait to see the finished brand new music building.

My first half term was brilliant at LP. They have really good hospitality and I felt like part of a family. The food in LP is brilliant and the teachers are really friendly and they help you get along with everyone else.

We have Collects which are about things in real life and we reflect about the things we have talked about during the morning session. My favourite lessons are Computer Science, Maths, English, Drama, History and Geography.

I have made a few friends, I also play games with them and I also go to after school activities. In conclusion, I am enjoying this opportunity to learn and experience school life.

Studying A Levels

“Where is your essay?!” “Have you done your homework?” “Deadline’s in two days!”

Imagine hearing, reading, dreaming these words almost every day, ceaselessly for two years. These words overload and override your brain; torment you daily and nightly; an attack on your conscience which threatens to crack under the strain and stress of everything SCHOOL.

I, for one, can relate. Beginning my A Levels made me feel so grown up, ready to take on the academic and personal challenge of sixth form life. The resolve with which I begun my A levels slowly crumbled over time, and if it weren’t for my teachers, family, and social workers constantly encouraging and reminding me, I would not be where I am now.

As an English Literature student, I was expected to write multiple essays and complete coursework, which were integral to my overall grade. I began to procrastinate, pushing away all my responsibilities until it was too late. Or so it seemed to me as I became hopeless, ready to give in to the very real possibility of being kicked off my course.

But! Alas, my knight in shining armour (aka both of my English teachers AND my registration tutor) all came galloping to my rescue, upon their majestic white horses of unlimited wisdom and knowledge! You can empathise when I say that I absolutely did not want to comply with my teachers.

Despite this, they persisted, and somehow managed to convince me to stay after school every day for two weeks (!!!) and work on my coursework with them. Once I had finally completed this very important piece of work, you can imagine how optimistic I began to feel about the world again. It felt as though I’d been at the gym for too long and had finally put down the 80kg weights I was lifting, finally able to smile again in class, finally stopped avoiding my teachers, finally stopped bursting into tears at every silly situation. Finally I could move forward.

And so, I spent hours and hours working excessively in the art block (where I felt most comfortable) finishing off yet another important essay, and writing my personal statement for university. Yes! I wouldn’t be suspended from my course, I would achieve my highest potential and I would go to uni!

I became my happy, bubbly and loud self again and threw myself into my work, doing the thing I enjoyed most: painting. The nerve-wracking experience of revising and sitting my A Level exams, the positively turbulent organisation of my art show, which would be reviewed and graded by an invigilator. This was all worth the hassle for the attributes I acquired over the time.

I learnt responsibility, time management, amazing critical and analytical skills which will stay with me forever, and A Level results which exceeded my expectations.

I achieved an A* in art, a C in Psychology and a D in English. Whilst these don’t sound like the best grade combination, it’s important to remember that I did the best I could considering everything which was going on in my personal life, and I did amazingly in the subject that mattered the most. I’m very proud of myself and really encourage every other child out there to aspire to be as great as they can be!

I am now at the University of Sunderland, doing a foundation Diploma in Art and Design, and loving every second of it. Besides that, the best part is I live with brilliant flatmates who make every moment of my life here on forward magical, and I couldn’t have done it all without the help of my teachers and foster family. Thank you for reading my article.