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Welcome to our Spring newsletter!

Last term was a whirlwind of activity at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC). We've seen our students take centre stage at the launch of the Natspec Manifesto in Westminster, delve into the fascinating world of science, and even try their hand at axe throwing! 

But that's not all. From celebrating sporting successes and raising voices in the newly formed choir, to showcasing creativity in our craft workshops and acknowledging the strength of women on International Women's Day, the RNC community has been buzzing with energy and achievement. 

As always in this edition, you'll find inspiring stories and updates on all of our incredible young people. So, read on and discover the world of opportunity that thrives here at RNC.

College news round up

Exploring the treasures of Hereford

Aspire Class on the steps at the entrance to the Town Hall

As part of their course, Level 1 Aspire students are diving into a unit titled Exploring Local Tourist Attractions. This unit requires them to explore some of Hereford's tourist attractions, encompassing the natural world, historical landmarks, and man-made attractions.

Their first visit started at the Hereford Tourist Information Centre, which is located in Hereford's beautiful Town Hall. There, they met Steve who shed light on how the Centre operates and, as a former RNC student himself, was able to provide valuable insights specifically on how he worked and how the Centre assists tourists in planning their visit to the county.

RNC governors 'in the dark'

Sam helps one of the governors with the cooking activity

Student Sam Smith recently impressed the College's governors with a unique and insightful Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) project. 

Sam's project focused on creating an immersive learning experience for the governors, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted students.

To begin with, Sam had three ideas and to determine which would be the most suitable he undertook a SWOT analysis, and then set about meticulously planning an event filled with activities designed to showcase independent living skills, mobility techniques, and assistive technology. The centrepiece of Sam's project was a 'dine in the dark' experience for the governors. This activity provided a glimpse into the world of navigating and enjoying a meal without sight.

Don't worry, be hoppy!

Hazal sits at a table smiling and holding up the two Easter bunnies looking for names

Our Business Admin students did a great job of organising their Don't Worry, Be Hoppy! extravaganza at the end of term. This event not only highlighted their organisational skills but also the wide range of activities on offer at RNC - from the Duke of Edinburgh's Award to arts and crafts.

The team meticulously planned, co-ordinated, and promoted the event, attracting stall holders from across the College. Visitors were treated to a delightful mix - tasty treats of Welsh cakes and cookies, plants grown by students, and a raffle to win a chocolatey hamper. 

The student massage therapists offered relaxing massage, along with a selection of hand creams and lip balms for sale. There was an opportunity to get your name written in Braille, and you could even try out some physical activities. The event also featured a chance to name the adorable Easter bunnies, as held up in this picture by Hazal.

Hands-on learning

Izzy and Freya in a science lab with petri dishes.

The College ensures inclusive and hands-on learning for its A Level Biology students. With a 2:1 staff/student ratio, practical lessons are delivered collaboratively by RNC staff and lab technicians from Hereford Sixth Form College's Biology Department. This supportive environment allows students to develop essential laboratory skills and solidify the scientific knowledge gained in their RNC classes. 

In a recent practical session, Izzy and Freya exemplified this approach by inoculating petri dishes with bacteria. This experiment not only investigated the impact of disinfectant concentrations but also provided valuable training in aseptic techniques, a cornerstone of laboratory work.

Student Voice: I Am Also

Raven's printed Talking Point page from the Hereford Times

Last year, the Hereford Times editor, John Wilson, reached out to the College to invite student voices to contribute to a longstanding feature in the paper. Titled Talking Point, the column features opinion pieces from a rota of local people and RNC students will contribute to four columns during 2024.

Three eager students volunteered for this exciting opportunity, and the first of their submissions has already hit the press. Raven Scott's article, titled I Am Also, was published on 14 March.

Stay tuned for more insightful and thought-provoking pieces from RNC students in the Talking Point column this year.

Lyrics, Leaves and Lives

The group of students stand in Queenswood with the Herefordshire landscape outstretched behind them

Early in March students went on an adventure around Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum. They followed the Lyrics, Leaves and Lives audio trail, which was further enriched by the presence of John, a dedicated Queenswood volunteer with a keen ear for birdsong. 

John's expertise in interpreting the melodies of the park's feathered friends added another dimension to the walk, making it a truly immersive learning experience for everyone. Thanks to John and all of the staff and volunteers who supported this activity.

On top of the world

Two students standing at the top of Guy's Tower with views of Warwick behind them

Students had a fantastic trip to Warwick Castle recently, experiencing history in a whole new way. Thanks to a brilliant touch tour led by expert Ben, students got up close and personal with the castle's treasures. They explored the Great Hall, feeling the grand fireplace, handling a replica of Oliver Cromwell's death mask, and traversing the incredible Kenilworth Buffet (they even got to touch it, which is usually off-limits). 

In the library there was a treasure trove of history to touch. They handled a range of things including broadswords, chainmail (both riveted and butted), a gauntlet and a shield. 

Rooms at Warwick Castle contain Madame Tussauds mannequins, including a young Winston Churchill in the library. Students also explored the Kingmaker exhibition and got a good scare, with great descriptions by the actors, at the Castle Dungeon. To top it all off some students climbed the 128ft Guy's Tower for stunning views of the castle and Warwick itself.

A huge thank you to the incredible staff at Warwick Castle for being so accommodating, and to Beth, Mel, Nathan, and Rachel for supporting the trip.

Students 'take the leap' for International Women's Day

The RNC group and guide dog stand in front of the newly unveiled Rotherwas Angel statue

Three students and a member of staff attended the inspiring 'Take the Leap' event on Saturday 9 March, held at NMITE University's Skylon Campus in Hereford to celebrate International Women's Day. 

Organised by Herefordshire's Women's Equality Group and West Mercia Women's Aid, 'Take the Leap' embodied this year's International Women's Day theme with its focus on inclusion, inspiration, and learning. 

Students Izzy, Laurel and Rubin, along with teacher Lisa, enjoyed guided tours of the workshops and stalls. Talks from NMITE's women in STEM fields highlighted the importance of diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A separate discussion explored the experiences of neurodivergent women.

Bloomin' lovely!

Students with art teacher Mel sat a table creating paper daffodils

To celebrate St David's Day, the Braille Inn hosted a fun craft night led by art teacher Mel. Students created beautiful paper daffodils - a symbol of Wales, which is just across the border from the College.

Accessible science

Dr Olins stands in front of one of the slides from his presentation showing a graphical interpretation of sound waves at an installation he is working on in Wells Cathedral

Dr Rob Olins, Artist in Residence in the Physics Department at Bath University, recently paid a visit to the College to share his work with staff. 

Dr Olins is on a mission to bring diversity to the field of physics, working to make the subject more accessible to individuals with disabilities such as visual and hearing impairments, as well as mobility issues. Through his unique approach to public art, he is able to enhance the knowledge and understanding of physics for a wider audience.


Overcoming challenges and embracing the future

We're thrilled to share this film commissioned by the
Thomas Pocklington Trust, featuring Muhammed, a current RNC student. 

In this film, Muhammed recounts the challenges he faced in accessing specialist education and how RNC has transformed his life. Muhammed describes his struggles to find support for his passion for graphic design after experiencing sight loss. 

RNC provided him with the accessible tools, training, and support he needed to flourish and he has now developed confidence and independence and is looking forward to a fulfilling career in design. 

Muhammed's story embodies the significance of the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI). The CFVI advocates for providing young individuals with VI the appropriate technology, training, and opportunities to foster independence and equip them for successful careers and independent lives. 

New wellbeing choir off to a great start

Rahel and Stephanie

RNC's new wellbeing choir is off to a flying start thanks to Jo Lowry, Singing for Wellbeing Lead for Herefordshire from Encore Enterprises. The choir tackled "Firework" by Katie Perry and "Rule the World" by Take That in their second meeting. 

The group is already sounding fantastic, with some beautiful harmonies. Jo also dropped the news that the RNC choir will be joining forces with three other choirs for a big concert in June! 

In even bigger news, Jo announced that the concert will be led by world-renowned musical arranger, choir director and vocal coach, Mark De-Lisser, known for his work with Ariana Grande and the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, to name but a few. 

The event will include music workshops led by Mark too! Watch this space for more details...

A sweet treat

Hazal and Jacob wear aprons and are creaming butter and sugar together in their bowls using a wooden spoon

Students enjoyed a fun activity when the Independent Living Skills (ILS) kitchens threw open their doors on a Saturday at the end of February, offering students the chance to whip up a batch of delicious oat and sultana cookies. 

Not only did they create a tasty treat to take away, but they also had the chance to showcase the culinary skills they've honed at RNC. A big thank you goes to Flea and Helena for setting up this enjoyable and delicious baking activity, and to volunteer Barbara for her support.

Sharpening skills at axe-throwing activity


Inspired by comedian and RNC alumni Chris McCausland's recent axe-throwing feat during his television show Wonders of the World I Can't See, RNC students took aim at the activity themselves! 

At the end of February, a group headed to Matrix, a local axe throwing venue. There they embraced the challenge and learned the techniques for this exciting activity. The staff at Matrix were really accommodating and once again ensured everyone had a safe and enjoyable experience. 

As always, the College is committed to providing students with diverse and enriching opportunities. Axe throwing might not be the most traditional activity for those with visual impairments, but with a positive attitude and the right guidance, it was a thrilling and inclusive experience for all. Thanks again to the team at Matrix, to Beth for running the activity, and to volunteer Elvira for her support.

Unlocking Potential: a manifesto for specialist further education

The group of staff and students stand smiling with the parliament building behind them

Students enjoyed a cream tea and an afternoon in the House of Commons while delivering a very important message to highlight the need for fair access to specialist further education (FE) to those who need it.

Four students attended the event with Executive Principal Lucy Proctor, Director of Quality and Student Journey Mark Fisher, and Teacher in Charge of Independent Living Skills Gareth Brydon.

It came as Natspec published Unlocking Potential, its manifesto for the 2024 UK general election. Students and staff from across Natspec’s member colleges met with MPs to explain the importance of specialist FE and to set out some of the policy changes needed to ensure young people with more complex needs can access high quality specialist provision.

Air hockey takes off at the Braille Inn

Games night

Students enjoyed a lively Games Night at the College bar, the Braille Inn, in February. The big draw of the night was the debut of the new air hockey/pool table, which has already become a popular addition to the social area, along with all the usual favourites like Twister and Jenga

A big thank you goes to volunteers Sam, Eliot and Rachel for their support to Julie and Beth in running the event. Their efforts ensured a fun and relaxing evening for all the students who attended.

Rejuvenation and relaxation


Massage and Complementary Therapies students were treated to a special guest lecture from Samantha of RMS Aesthetics in February.

Samantha's expertise lies in facial aesthetics, and she shared her knowledge with the class by teaching them how to perform a rejuvenation and natural lifting facial massage. The lecture included not only the practical techniques but also the theory behind the facial products used during the massage. 

The day proved to be a great learning experience for both students and staff, offering a chance to relax and gain valuable new skills. Student Freya particularly appreciated the session, commenting: 'I felt the experience was very valuable and incredibly useful especially for our upcoming exam.'

This engaging workshop equipped students with practical massage techniques that will undoubtedly benefit them in their studies and future careers.

Diggin' the dancing queens

Students in front of stage

Our students had an amazing time when they took in a performance of SIX at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham before the February half term. In this reimagined tale of one king and six wives, Tudor history met girl power with a performance full of fantastic sing aloud anthems and everyone danced the whole way through it.

Audio description was provided through personal headsets and the theatre staff provided a touch tour beforehand to give the students the opportunity to feel the set, props and costumes, to put the performance into context. Many thanks to staff member Kath and volunteer Pat for supporting the trip.

An introduction to ballet

Students being taught ballet during a session with Beth demonstrating

Not only is Beth RNC's amazing Activities Co-ordinator, she's also a qualified ballet teacher with some seriously graceful moves.

Recently she combined her two passions and gave our students a magical taste of the ballet world. Dance is a wonderful way to improve movement and co-ordination, and to develop mobility skills and spatial awareness but, most of all, it was super fun.

Bridging the gap: Get Workplace Ready course for visually impaired young adults

3 Students and 2 guide dogs standing outside the RNC Learning Hub chatting and smiling

Sight loss charities that support young people with visual impairments have come together to ‘bridge the gap’ for young adults who are in between education and employment. 

VICTA and RNC are hosting Get Workplace Ready, a pilot three-month short course for young adults aged between 19 and 29 with a visual impairment. Funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust and delivered by Train2Train, the course is designed to help participants discover their career goals, tackle fear of failure, increase self-confidence and improve their wellbeing, to take their first positive steps towards the labour market.

The great RNC pottery throw down

Students and staff posing for a photo during the pottery

It was all smiles on a quiet Sunday morning at the end of January, as a group of students headed to CUP Ceramics Community Pottery where they spent the morning making fun and useful things out of clay. 

They learnt about pottery processes and techniques and gained practical experience working with clay. Everyone had a fantastic time and students can’t wait to return! A big thank you to Rose and Col at Cup Ceramics for a fantastic experience and to staff Beth, Mel and Meg who supported the trip.

Introducing the student ambassadors

The group of 5 Student Ambassadors 2023-24

Our Student Ambassadors are a fantastic group who are passionate about making sure everyone at RNC feels welcome and supported. They're there to help with everything from assisting new students around campus to making friends, and they're always happy to chat or offer a listening ear. 

Laser tag showdown

Students and volunteers posing for a photo after the laser tag

Students put their teamwork and tactical skills to the test in an epic laser tag showdown at Matrix Hereford in January. Everyone worked in pairs to navigate the course during their two game stint.

The first was an individual game where everyone competed against each other whilst the second game saw the group split into two teams to battle against each other. 

Thanks go to Beth for organising and supporting the trip along with Nathan and Meg, plus volunteers Eliot, Sam and Mick. A special mention goes to Jamie at the Matrix for supporting the session, making sure that everyone felt included.

Massage students visits Body Clinic 

the RNC trainees stand in the clinic talking to two of the therapists

Our Massage and Complementary Therapies students embarked on a field trip to The Body Clinic in Leominster in January. 

The Body Clinic boasts six treatment rooms rented by a diverse group of self-employed therapists, each offering different therapies. The students were thoroughly impressed by the facilities and gained valuable insights into the world of independent practice. 

Trainee therapist Pippa commented: 

'The trip provided fantastic ideas for developing our own businesses in the future.' 

Ryley, another trainee, added: 

'Luana, the Clinic Manager, was incredibly informative. It was fascinating to hear the perspectives of experienced therapists firsthand.' 

The day concluded with a visit to a crystal therapy shop, followed by a well-deserved lunch at The Flying Dutchman.

Tech-savvy students build gaming PCs

Student Roco building the inside of a gaming computer

The College boasts a thriving IT Department and, depending on their chosen course, students can explore many different elements of technology such as computer programming, security, website development, data analysis and much more.

Recently students have been building their own gaming PCs. Not only are they learning valuable technical skills but they are also saving money in the process. The build was part of a Level 3 unit on Hardware, and the brief was to create a gaming suite for use by students at the College.

Street dance vibes

Ruth at the front of the class demonstrates with 5 students in front of her

Students got to bust some moves on the dance floor early in January when they attended a Street Dance workshop at thePoint4.

The workshop was led by Ruth Wood from Creative Fitness. Everyone learned some killer moves and had a blast. Big thanks to Ruth for sharing her skills and getting the students moving!

Sports news

RNC continues to dominate in European Blind Football League

2024-03-30 RNC Hereford v Dortmund 103 copy

The College's blind football team - RNC Hereford - are proving to be unstoppable in the European Blind Football League (EBFL). Over the Easter weekend, they secured impressive victories over both ASDD Roma and Borussia Dortmund during Round 3 of the tournament, which was held on home soil at thePoint4. 

RNC began the day in style, thrashing Roma 9-0 in the morning fixture. Eesa Amjid was on fire, finding the net an impressive five times. Azeem Amir also had a stellar performance, bagging a hat trick, while Roy Turnham added another goal to complete the rout. 

The afternoon clash against Borussia Dortmund proved to be a different story. In a very competitive and physical game, Roy Turnham rose to the occasion, scoring both goals for RNC Hereford to secure a convincing 2-0 victory.

Student makes film to showcase partially sighted futsal

2023-01-21 PSFL Tournament 225

Student Muhammad Jamil recently presented his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on the topic of partially sighted futsal. Muhammad, who had no prior knowledge of the sport before joining the College, undertook this project to raise awareness of partially sighted futsal.

Muhammad's presentation detailed evidence of his research process, how he organised the project, and the people he spoke with during his exploration of the sport. These included officials, players, an FA representative, and the Chair of the Partially Sighted Futsal League (PSFL).

Player of the Day award for RNC PSFL player

Team RNC grouped in the goalmouth - 3 players stand at the back with 3 players kneeling in front. Kyron who won the award stands third from left in the back row

The fifth round of the Partially Sighted Football League took place at University of Nottingham on Saturday 24 February. 

RNC, who play in the Championship, had a strong showing, winning one game, drawing one and losing one. The results were: 

RNC 1 - 0 Nantwich Town Disability Football

RNC 0 - 0 Scorpions Futsal Club 

RNC 2 - 3 Everton in the Community 

Head Coach Dylan Malpas praised the team saying: 

'It's fantastic to be back playing and building on our performances and a special mention to Kyron Wyatt who was awarded 'Player of Day' for his outstanding efforts.' 

Congratulations, Kyron.

Gold for RNC students at Goalball UK finals

The winning team and a guide dog with coaches and guides stand in front of a Goalball UK banner wearing their gold medals and one player holds the trophy

In February there was a weekend to remember for RNC Sports Academy students who reigned supreme at the Goalball UK 2024 Intermediate Finals in Sheffield.

Facing fierce competition from 14 teams across the UK, the RNC team demonstrated some excellent defensive performances to remain undefeated all weekend, beating the London Elephants 5-2 to take gold in the final. 

The team – Oliver Frost, Freya Gavin, Conall Moore and Megan Smithson-Booth – not only played an excellent team game but also delivered exceptional individual contributions, with Freya voted as ‘Player of the Weekend’, recognising her individual performance throughout the competition.

Judo students belt up!

Meg with her yellow belt - she stands with the coach Carol and Assistant Coach Evie

Judo students were put through their paces by coach Carol Leverton (British Judo Association) early in January during a grading session. The students have been training hard and their efforts were rewarded with a range of new belts. 

Shabaz, Conall, Alyssia and Logan impressed with their skills, earning themselves red belts. Megan and Daisy demonstrated excellent progress, achieving yellow belts, while Aiden showcased his talent by receiving an orange belt. A big congratulations to the class on their well-deserved gradings.

Staff news

A bicycle made for two

Tandem cycle training

In March some of RNC's staff and volunteers, who are keen cyclists, took the opportunity to to do a spot of training. It was a chance for experienced cyclists to brush up on their skills, and for others to train as tandem pilots. 

A big thank you goes to Rob from British Cycling for sharing his expertise and to Dan from Hereford Cycle Hub. Dan not only co-organised the day with Rob, but also recently serviced the College's tandem bikes, ensuring they're in top shape for future adventures. Funding from Sport England made this training possible, paving the way for tandem cycling to become a regular activity for students again post Covid.

This exciting addition wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of staff members Phil and Nathan, along with volunteers Kevin, Pippa, Vince, and Andrew. Their willingness to participate in the training demonstrates a commitment to offering inclusive cycling experiences for all students.

With a skilled team and well-maintained bikes, the College is ready to launch its tandem cycling activity to students once more.

Fundraising news

The Fundraising Department has been bustling with activity throughout the year and a few of the fundraising activities are highlighted below.

Monies raised enable us to buy necessary new equipment, upgrade out of date kit, refurbish areas of our campus and buy in the latest resources. Crucially, donations enable our students to have enriching extra curricular experiences which aren't covered by their general funding. Every donation really does change lives and we're incredible grateful for your support.

If you would like to receive a comprehensive Fundraising newsletter (our Supporter News) alongside our general newsletter, please update your preferences via the blue button below.

RNC students Freya and Ryley tackle Manchester Marathon

Ryley and Freya sitting down smiling both are displaying their hard earned Manchester Marathon medals

Freya Gavin and Ryley Day-Hector took on the Manchester Marathon on Sunday 14 April. This was the first marathon for both of them and between them they have raised a magnificent £3,407 for the College to date.

Freya, who hails from Manchester, took part in the marathon as part of her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) at College. To achieve the qualification, she independently planned, organised and fundraised for their marathon participation. Freya also had to secure the help of volunteer guide runners to assist her training when residing in Hereford.

Lisa Roberts who leads on the EPQ programme at RNC, accompanied the students to the event. Both Freya and Ryley were determined to take on the challenge, but the race proved to be more demanding than they had anticipated.

Hereford runners take on Brighton Marathon in support of RNC

The group of four runners wearing their bright red Hereford Couriers t-shirts and white sashes with the RNC logo

Huge congratulations to our Hereford Couriers Running Club superstars! 

Ben Brown, Kieran Merrick, Kieran Whittall and Ryan Lawrence all smashed the Brighton Marathon at the weekend, with incredible times of: 

  • Ben Brown: 3:38:05
  • Ryan Lawrence: 3:04:39
  • Kieran Merrick: 3:26:00
  • Kieran Whittall: 3:50:04 

Not only did they achieve amazing personal goals, but together they've also raised over £3,000 for the Royal National College for the Blind. We're so grateful for their incredible support and dedication and can't wait to welcome them to the College soon to show them firsthand how these vital funds help our visually impaired young people.

It's not too late to give them your support, you can visit their fundraising page here.

Job Vacancies

A graphic with a photo of students socialising over a hot drink. Text reads Join our team! Learn more and apply at www.rnc.ac.uk/jobs

We're looking for enthusiastic and dedicated teachers to join our team and have the following vacancies:

  • Teacher of Mathematics
  • Digital Skills Teacher

You will have the chance to make a real impact on the lives of our students in a supportive and collaborative working environment. With a competitive salary and benefits including an employee assistance programme, free car parking, subsidised gym membership and eligibility for the cycle to work scheme. 

Click the 'Apply today!' button to learn more about our current vacancies and take the first step towards a rewarding career.

Dates for your diary...


Brian Aarons Cup

11 May 2024

End of Summer Term 

5 July 2024

Half Term 

27-31 May 2024

New Student Conference 

12-13 July 2024

Goalfix Cup 

15-16 June 2024

A Level (Level 3) Results Day

15 August 2024

Round 5 EBFL Tournament, France 

22 June 2024

GCSE (Level 2) Results Day 

22 August 2024

FA Disability Cup at St George's Park

29-30 June 2024


The Royal National College for the Blind

Venns Lane



Tel: 01432 265 725

Email: info@rnc.ac.uk

Web: www.rnc.ac.uk