Sam Rea has been in the Dumbarton branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken so often he now gets a discount on his favourite lunchtime meal of Crispystrips, John Cairney writes. If it wasn't for the presence of his special needs auxiliary, however, he would not even be able to leave school.
Fourteen-year-old Sam, a third-year pupil in Dumbarton Academy, is able to access not only fast foods but a full curriculum in spite of having a severe visual impairment.
In his recent exams he got the equivalent of six Standard grade Credit passes and is optimistic about doing well in his Highers next session. He is a talented keyboard player and will be adding the drums to his musical repertoire when he does Standard grade music in fourth year.
Margaret Mary Beattie, Sam's auxiliary, accompanies him to subjects such as home economics and chemistry where there are safety considerations. "I can walk out to the blackboard or sometimes the teacher reads to me," he said.
Coursework is available in enlarged print and he has use of specialised facilities in the visual impairment base in the school which caters for visually impaired pupils throughout West Dumbartonshire. He often uses the base when he needs extended time to complete exams.
Vicki McGraw, principal teacher of learning support, described Sam as "a very bright pupil who has taken full advantage of the extensive support available to him". Sam cannot identify any major problems, though he admits to getting a tad irritated when Margaret Mary Beattie is reluctant to pop down to KFC because it is raining.