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At school for just a single lesson a day

hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
edited July 2019 in Guest blogs

Hannah (28) has been disabled since an injury at the age of 14, which left her with Complex Regional Pain syndrome and a range of secondary illnesses and complications. She’s a disability and lifestyle blogger and started her blog Hannah’s Hope in 2018. She’s passionate about making a difference, changing perceptions and promoting equality.

I was an active and independent teenager attending mainstream school before the age of 14, with a future goal of becoming a doctor or physiotherapist. After my injury my mobility and health both deteriorated that I went from attending school on crutches, to using a wheelchair. Meanwhile the amount of time I was spending at school a day decreased. At first, I was forced to drop one GCSE, then two, then three, then four until I was attending school for just a single lesson a day.

There were challenges to getting around school with reduced mobility and even more so as I began using crutches or navigating the halls in a wheelchair. I was lucky that my school had a lift but moving from one classroom to another took time. I couldn’t squeeze through crowds and if the lift broke, I was stuck.

It was hard emotionally too. Before my injury I’d set out to do 10 GCSEs but seeing my subjects decrease one by one and also being the only girl in a wheelchair, I was becoming increasingly different from my peers.

About a year after my injury, I was admitted to my local hospital, bedbound. It was a few months before I was well enough to attend the hospital school. It was a pupil referral unit within the children’s ward. There I studied for my Maths GCSE with a couple of other young people. I took my GCSE laying on my side, bedbound and needing to be turned halfway through. I had a scribe and extra time, but despite being good at maths, I was only allowed to take the intermediate tier, as apparently ‘when you are ill, you go down a tier’. If anything, I found it harder to do the intermediate level as I kept looking for it to be more complicated than it was. However, I got the highest grade possible (a B). I was then transferred to University College Hospital, where I spent most of the next four years in a teenage unit.


There I attended the hospital school linked with Great Ormond Street School and completed my English GCSE. It was during this period that I was approached by an organisation called Protégé, who help young people who aren’t in mainstream education to access education, gain qualifications and experience through the arts. Protégé helps many young people who can’t attend mainstream school and they listen to the interests of their students and help them to develop their skills in writing, fashion, drama, singing, art and drawing to name a few. I completed my Silver Arts Award and considerably improved my writing whilst writing my 24-hour day.

At the age of 21, I finally came home after being away since I was 15. I had missed most of year 10, all of 11, 12 and 13 and after coming out of hospital I simply slipped through the net. We had to battle just to get access to education again and two years later, I finally began attending my local college for just two hours, on one evening a week in order to study my Science GCSE. I had a teaching assistant to scribe for me and assist with experiments and luckily for me, the higher benches in the science laboratory worked better as I could get under the bench and raise my powerchair. With the support of a scribe, extra time and some rest breaks, I achieved an A*.

After that, I wondered what to do next and settled on the idea of studying Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) as I’m good at maths. So, over the last few years, I’ve studied two evenings a week and have been lucky enough to have the same teaching assistant all the way through my time at college and this made a big difference to me. I also had the use of a writing slope and a height-adjustable desk. Before this, I couldn’t get under the standard desk as it was too low and too narrow for my powerchair. I recently finished studying and after achieving my AAT Level 2, 3, I passed my level 4 professional diploma with a grade of distinction (sitting computer-based exams along the way) and I am now an AAT accountant!

I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to work and if I am, whether I could manage 3 or 40 hours a week but studying kept my brain alive and gave me a qualification. The AAT seemed like it would give me flexibility and accountancy might help me work from home. However, the next stage for me is to get some work experience, to gain some confidence and the skills and experience I need to support me. I’ll be able to see if I can manage 3 hours a week and whether I need to adjust that. With that experience on my CV, I’ll have a better prospects and greater chance of success.

Was your education affected by your impairment or condition? What change would have helped make education more accessible to you?

Replies

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for this @hdeakin, it was insightful to learn about your educational journey and I really do hope you are able to find some accountancy experience soon!  
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  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you @Chloe_Scope
    How was your education experience? 
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    edited July 2019
    So inspiring. I was homeschooled by my parents for several years. Goodluck with your jobhunting! Yes it was. At the age of 22 I now have more compassion for disabled folks everywhere. I just completed a distance learning course online accredited by my local college and am starting full time work later this year. 
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you @April2018mom 😊 Well done on completing a distance learning course recently. What was the course in? What are you hoping to get a job in? Good luck 🍀with the job hunting too! 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @hdeakin, my education experience has been tricky at times but on the whole they've been really good :)

    I just wish everyone gained the support they need as I know this isn't always the case!  
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  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing Team, Community Team Posts: 7,934 Scope community team
    Great post @hdeakin. If I ever need an accountant, I'll know who to email! :smiley:
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  • LifeOfPippaLifeOfPippa Member Posts: 15 Courageous
    Really interesting read, @hdeakin!
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    I am glad you had a good experience on the whole @Chloe_Scope but can imagine that it has been challenging at times! Unfortunately disability always seems to be! I know what you mean I wish everyone gained the support they need. Sometimes it seems to be a post code lottery. 😕
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you @Adrian_Scope! Hehe! Yes definitely! 
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you @LifeOfPippa! How was your education experience at uni with an illness? 
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Member Posts: 7,732 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you so much for sharing this @hdeakin
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  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
    I certainly agree with you there @hdeakin! As a disabled student you do have to put in that extra effort even if you have a good level of support because the support still doesn't make it an even playing field!
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  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @hdeakin and thank you for sharing your educational experiences with us.  It is a wonderful read and so inspiring to others!  Congratulations on gaining your qualifications and I wish you all the best in gaining some experience in Accountancy.  :smile:

    For me, my time at school was interrupted a lot when I would have to go into hospital for various operations and this was more so at primary level.  However, like you, I used to get education in hospital a few mornings a week which I actually enjoyed as the teacher was really kind and very patient and made the lessons seem more fun than at "ordinary" school.  When I went onto further and higher education I found the support there to be really excellent for disabled people and anything I needed was put in place for me so I have been very lucky that way.  I just wish it could be the same for every disabled person.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • pollyanna1052pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 1,999 Disability Gamechanger
    Wow! What an amazing person you are @hdeakin! Your story is so inspiring and I wish you all the success in the world. You`ve come so far and have proved what grit and determination can do, with the right support and backing. Best wishes.xx
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you. You are very welcome @Sam_Scope :) 
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Definitely @Chloe_Scope I wrote a bit about this in my article I did for Able Magazine https://ablemagazine.co.uk/columnist-hannah-deakin-adjusting-to-life-with-a-disability/
    On the positive note the achievements are more incredible, like your amazing 1st class honours degree you have just achieved because of the barriers and difficulties you have faced and endured during the way. Well done again! 
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you so much @ails! I am sorry to hear you had lots of spells in hospital when you were younger for operations. I am glad the hospital teachers were nice and made learning fun, it makes a big difference. That is great to hear that you got the help and adjustments you needed in higher and further education, it makes a big difference. I know what you mean. It would be nice if everyone had a good experience and got the support they need. What did you study? Are you managing to work/volunteer now? 😊
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you so much @pollyanna1052 that means a lot! Definitely, my determination to succeed has helped me a lot as well as the support from my wonderful parents 😊
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
    Another great article @hdeakin! Thank you very much! :)
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  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    The article you have written for Able Magazine is so inspirational and a great read so thanks for sharing it, @hdeakin. Your determination is fantastic and I wish you all the best for the future in gaining some work.  Thank you for your kind comments.  I studied English with Education at uni in the hope of becoming a secondary school teacher and gained some great experience in schools, but found out it wasn't really for me; but am glad that I got my degree anyway.  I'm not working at the moment unfortunately, due to my health, but my last job was working in an after-school care club which I loved!  I'm hoping to work with children again in the future as I do miss it.  I'm volunteering here on Scope as one of the Community Champions which I really enjoy so I would recommend that to anyone.  I will have a look at your blog as it sounds really interesting.  :smiley:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • SeanchaiSeanchai Member Posts: 411 Pioneering
    An amazing young lady ...well done , I take my hat off to you . 
    Alas , it's not always been the case that education resources were helpful for disabled people . Over 50 years ago , I got knocked down by a bus and the bus stopped on top of me , mashing my leg up , breaking my pelvis , ribs and a fractured skull . I was off school for a year and learning to walk again was hard enough  without the added pressure from studying and exams. ( although there was no such thing as hospital schooling ) I thought to myself that I had only missed a year and I would catch up with my studies. When i got back to my third year in high school , I had missed very important lessons in second year , it was as though the teachers were speaking in a foreign language and I had not got a clue what they were talking about ...instead of saying something , I managed to bluff my way through the rest of high school .
    I was never really academic ( like yourself) but when I started work as an apprentice mechanical engineer I went to college and I found it hard to concentrate  but I managed to get my City and Guilds in mechanical engineering .
    I am so inspired by your story ...what an amazing young lady . I,m sure you will help others who are in your situation ...well done .
    If only things had been different 50 years ago . Good luck for your future career,  I,m sure you will do well .
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    hdeakin said:
    Thank you @April2018mom 😊 Well done on completing a distance learning course recently. What was the course in? What are you hoping to get a job in? Good luck 🍀with the job hunting too! 
    Adult Social Care. I haven’t decided yet. 
  • northwestmum2northwestmum2 Member Posts: 55 Courageous
    My youngest son,now 16,had various medical conditions and some(a few) had been undiagnosed most of his life- he struggled through year 7 at mainstream high school with a great deal of help from 'intervention officer' at school who,though well meaning& sympathetic,was getting out of his depth- year 8,he spent most of it in the winter months not well enough to attend,their answer was to send him to school on the hospital ward as a day pupil as well(!) for a few weeks- then when he was ill again they wanted to get rid of him altogether to a 'special medical school' which in reality was where they sent all the thugs and drop outs- not medical case kids at all- i refused- eventually it was too much for him and he was getting depressed over it all,intervention guy intervened& set up some caf or taf meetings- but not a lot of what was proposed actually ever got done! We just blundered on from year to year with him having a lot of time off,but he wanted to learn, and this has set him back.It was then discovered about 18mths ago,that on top of his other various medical problems he has cerebral palsy,like his brother- so then they rushed to get him a word processor( which he didnt want) and a scribe( which he did) but all too little too late as they could have done so much more for him early on! Now he has to wait & see how he's fared in GCSE's that he was ill- prepared for.The overall impression i got was that they simply thought he was lazy all those years! My other son also got little help (none really)not even a scribe, so did not do very well at all in GCSE's despite them knowing he had CP all along(same school)He is still chasing english GCSE  at college 4yrs after leaving school though he did attain maths after 2 yrs there.Why cant they do more to help disabled children in mainstream schools? It would help make such a difference both to their experience there and to their learning ability.
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you @ails I am glad you like my able magazine article :) thank you also for your lovely words! Well done on getting your degree-that is great! I sorry that you are not able to work at the moment due to your health. I am glad you loved your last job. It makes such a difference when you enjoy something so much and feel passionate about something. Children can be amazing to be and work with as well as very accepting of illnesses and disability. I hope you manage to get back to it in the future. I am glad you enjoy volunteering as a online community champion. It is a great community 😊 I hope you enjoy reading my blog :) 
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    Thank you so much @Seanchai I am very sorry to hear about the accident and your nasty injuries. I can imagine just all the physio and rehab was exhausting as well as very painful. I know I find it very time consuming. That must have been so hard going back to school having missed so much, especially important lessons. Congratulations on getting your city of guilds in mechanical engineering. That is great! Thank you I hope hearing my story does help others in a similar situation 😊
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 123 Pioneering
    @northwestmum2 I am so sorry to hear about all your struggles with getting the support your boys need. It is not fair. There was talk of sending me as a day pupil to the hospital school before I was admitted when I was poorly. I don't understand why they want to put ill students with expelled and drop outs- it is like we are getting punished for being ill and are not going to learn anything with disruptive, misbehaving students who don't want to learn. I have my fingers crossed for him for his GCSE results. I hate it when they just think you are lazy. Good luck to your other son getting his English GCSE. Yes I wish they did more for disabled students in mainstream education it would make such a difference.
  • northwestmum2northwestmum2 Member Posts: 55 Courageous
    Aw thank you hdeakin,that is so kind.i hope you are better now too :smile:
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