GCSE Case StudiesPosted: 21st August 2020
Five years ago, Tommy Brown had resigned himself to a menial job with little prospects.
Having struggled with dyslexia since the age of five, he believed his whole life would be a struggle.
That all changed when he joined Forest Hall School and was able to work with the in-house Dyslexia Support Unit (DSU).
Today, he collected a grade 9, a grade 7, a grade 6 and two grade 5 in his GCSEs and is excited to start a film and media production course at West Suffolk College.
He said: “I feel pretty good about my results.
“When I was younger, I was not expected to get any GCSEs. But, when I joined Forest Hall, I met teachers who encouraged me to do better than previously expected of me. They encouraged me to go beyond the ‘normal’ expectations of someone with dyslexia. It was refreshing as it was a new way of supporting my dyslexia and I was doing my reading and writing myself.
“When I was younger, I was the dumb kid. Now, I’m known as the smart kid.”
While Tommy attended the majority of his lessons with his classmates in the mainstream school, he focused on his reading, writing, homework and revision in the DSU.
He said: “All of my teachers at Forest Hall are aware that I’m dyslexic. We have conversations about how I will get around that, especially with textbook heavy subjects such as science. They suggest video alternatives to the reading. It is having those conversations in a comfortable space that really helps.
“I was always encouraged to keep going, even when I said I did not want to. My teachers helped me so much.
“It is odd to look back and realise how much has changed. There was a time when I couldn’t even go to school; I stayed in my room and was really depressed.
“To be in a place where my only real needs are spell checking is great. I will always be dyslexic and have that struggle; there will always be those things I mess up or misspell. But, the fact I can deliver my own work independently is pretty great.”
To younger people struggling to face a life with dyslexia, Tommy said: “Do what is good for you, not what is pleasurable. It is surprising how much effort people are not willing to put in, even if they want something badly. It can be difficult to do the right thing and you have to accept that. It is hard to work hard and do what is good for you.
“I remember when I was really young, someone said my life would always be hard because I’m dyslexic. That made me see it as a no-win scenario. Now, I see it that yes it can be hard, but that allows me to appreciate that what I am doing is working towards something positive.
“I am feeling really, really excited about college. I have gained so much confidence in the last few years. I have a nervous excitement, but the worries are minimal.”
Other success stories from Forest Hall School this year…
Beni Bafwa, from Stansted, collected one grade 7 and five grade 6. She is now heading to Long Road Sixth Form College to study psychology, French and textiles.
She said: “I felt a bit shocked when the exams were cancelled as I had wanted to sit them. I was disappointed as I wanted to see what I would have got if I had sat them.
“I was aiming for grades 6 and 7, so I got what I had hoped. It has been nerve-racking waiting to hear, but I am happy with my results.”
Tia Akers, from Hatfield Heath, picked up two grade 8 and four grade 7. She is looking to study art and photography at either Writtle College or Herts and Essex College.
She said: “I am very pleased with these results. They are higher than I was expecting. I was expecting to achieve grade 6s.
“I was a little bit disappointed to not be able to sit the exams, but there was nothing I could do about that.
“I have been keeping busy by doing my own artwork and developing my skills. That has definitely helped me to get through this time.”
Amelia Jenkins, from Flitch Green, achieved four grade 9, three grade 8 and a Distinction 2. She is going to study maths, further maths, physics and economics at Herts and Essex College.
She said: “I am elated!
“I was very nervous to get my results as it has been really hard to gauge what was going to happen. Everything was changing a lot. I did not sleep very well last night! Everyone has been so worried about it, but for the majority it seems to have worked out.
“I was a bit disappointed we did not get to sit our exams as it would have been nice to showcase the knowledge we have.
“I feel like I do not have to worry anymore.”