John Kenny

John first came to Newcastle College in 2012/13 to study L3 Interactive Media. John has a muscle wasting condition called Muscular Dystrophy which affects his mobility, pace of working and every day practical tasks.

The Learning Support Service began to work with John several months before he started on course to ensure that he had a smooth transition from his SEN school to mainstream FE College. This involved several familiarisation visits, assessments for personal care and assistive technology as well as visiting John at his SEN school to observe his learning support, personal care and moving and handling routines; taking guidance from his physiotherapist.

When we first met John he was very excited about studying at a mainstream College but he was also a little nervous as he did not know what to expect. John didn’t have very high aspirations for himself and didn’t have strong independent study skills, having never completed homework before. For this reason it was important to help John realise his aspirations and plan how we could assist him to meet his potential; for example by teaching him the independent study skills that he would need to be successful on a level 3 programme.

It was agreed that the course could be extended over 3 years, instead of 2, to allow John to work at a comfortable pace. However , John surpassed all expectations with the support of assistive technology and he successfully completed the course within 2 years. John was thrilled to win ‘L3 Interactive Media student of the year in 13/14’ after being nominated by all the peers in his cohort.

Working in partnership, the LDPD team, assistive technology and the teaching team have implemented innovative solutions to remove practical barriers, enabling John to access the curriculum and work as independently as possible. Funding was secured to provide John with an Apple -Mac laptop with all course related software pre-installed so that he could complete independent study at home.

John was also provided with weekly assistive technology training to learn to use Dragon voice-activated software. This was vital to John’s success on course as it enabled him to study and produce assignment work independently at home. Previously, John relied on using an on-screen keyboard to produce his work, which is a very slow process. Using dragon software has enabled John to dramatically increase the volume of work that he can produce and therefore keep pace with the course and his peers.

In addition, John accessed weekly one-to-one literacy and numeracy classes on a weekly basis which enabled him to achieve both subjects at Level 2; a necessary requirement for employment or entry to Higher Education study.

John is very proud to be the first member of his family to ever study at degree level by progressing to the Fda Media Production at Newcastle College in 14/15; something he never dreamed he could do when he first came to College in 12/13. John certainly has high aspirations for himself now having set his goal on specialising in animation and working in the media industry.

John commented ‘during my time at College I have received very good tuition from my lecturers and all the students I have met have been very friendly and welcoming. The support staff provide me with positive guidance to complete my course work and are really professional an friendly. The assistive technology department have provided me with specialist equipment and facilities I require to help me perform at my best during my course’.

John is a great ambassador for Newcastle College and hopes to inspire other young people with disabilities to come to College and follow their dreams.