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.