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Nadia Clarke Passes Two GCSEs

August 27, 2009

I’m very pleased to read this:

It was a day of mixed emotions today for GCSE student Nadia Clarke, who had to have the entire curriculum taught to her in sign language.

After an extraordinary exam marathon, which saw her picking out words for her answers on her computerised voicebox, the 17-year-old landed two entry-level passes in maths and science, but narrowly missed out on geography and religious studies.

Cruelly, her combination of cerebral palsy and deafness was compounded a month ago by swine flu. The virus floored her and left her with a tracheostomy.

“Completely unexpectedly, the surgeon took a look yesterday and said: ‘We’ll take the trach out and see how she does’,” said Nadia’s father, Andy. In the Nadia tradition, which has seen the 17-year-old fight and overcome obstacle after obstacle, she is doing fine.

It was in 1998 that the Guardian first told the story of Nadia, whose family moved across the country to find their bright but severely disabled daughter a place in mainstream education. She eventually found places at Halifax’s Savile Park primary and Ryburn high school.

“She’s disappointed to have missed the two GCSEs,” said her father. “But she’ll come round to seeing what an achievement just taking the exams has been.

“Ask Nadia a geography question or something about religious studies, and she’ll have the answer. But the GCSEs demanded longer, written explanations. For Nadia, it’s been like taking exams in a foreign language. If they’d been in ‘Nadia-language’, she’d have been well away.”

The results will not affect Nadia’s plans to start at Calderdale college in Halifax this autumn, on a BTec in health and social care. Longer term, she is aiming for a career in healthcare, helping other young people.

Her hopes of a gap year travelling after college are intact, and there will be celebrations this weekend with her family. There will be glasses raised, too, to the rota of eight support workers who scribed Nadia’s GCSE answers and who have been crucial to her inclusion in mainstream schooling.

This is part of the Inclusion Rules! debate at Same Difference.

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