Finding friendship in FE
Reading Joshua Hepple's article "From school to college was a journey out of exclusion" (TESS, 21 October), I feel like I could have written it myself, so much of it I also went through.
My one solace at secondary school was finding the animals in the science labs and becoming an animal keeper, helping to feed and care for them each break time, and it was only through them I found some sort of friendship again.
What made it worse for me at school was that I moved into secondary with my best friend from the disabled school we had attended before, which was just next door to the secondary school, but she was much more outgoing than me and found it easier to fit in and the teachers and her parents actually told her to stop hanging around with me to try and force me to make new friends.
You can't just up and join in with gangs of girls (it was a girls-only school) who have made friends right at the start of the year or even previous years, and so that just made me even more isolated.
I was so glad to go to college (a college for the disabled) and there once again I was able to show what I could do academically, as I was happy, I had friends and I was not being ignored or left behind in class. The difference was obvious: I came out of school with a couple of D grade GCSEs, but mostly Fs or even ungraded, whereas at college I was getting A-Cs.
Joshua, thank you for sharing your story and I'm glad you found FE before finishing your Highers, so you didn't lose out on repeating years, as I did.