Teenager starting university after scoring straight As in his A levels - despite not being able to read or write

‘My dyslexia affects me quite a lot, but also surprisingly little if you think about it’

A teenager is starting at Bristol University after scoring straight As in his A levels - despite not being able to read or write. Oliver Chadwick, 18, is so dyslexic that he has the reading age of a six-year-old.

But that did not stop the Ralph Allen school pupil from receiving grades of A* A A this August. The student from Bath achieved his results in mathematics, further mathematics and chemistry.

He is now embarking on his next educational journey to study an engineering mathematics degree at the University of Bristol.

Oliver said: “My dyslexia affects me quite a lot, but also surprisingly little if you think about it.

‘My dyslexia affects me quite a lot, but also surprisingly little if you think about it'‘My dyslexia affects me quite a lot, but also surprisingly little if you think about it'
‘My dyslexia affects me quite a lot, but also surprisingly little if you think about it'

‘’When people hear that you can’t read or write, they think you can’t do anything, but it only really affects me day-to-day when I can’t read things like signs.

“I picked maths because it is something I can do mostly by myself and this makes me feel more independent.”

When Oliver began to fall behind with his literacy in junior school, his mum, Sophie, organised additional lessons for Oliver with the Dyslexia Association for two hours a week every Saturday.

She also reduced her own working hours so that she could help him with his reading and writing at home, but unfortunately there was little progress.

Two further dyslexia experts even confirmed that Oliver was one of the most profoundly dyslexic persons they had ever seen.

Sophie, 54, said: “I knew something wasn’t normal, but they spent a lot of time telling me that boys were often a little bit slower to learn than girls.

“Whereas it might take other children an hour to do their homework, it could take Oliver 20 times as long.”

But Oliver has never let his disability bother him, choosing instead to focus on his strengths.

He said: “It wasn’t until year six that I started to notice a difference between myself and my classmates, but I never felt stupid, I just knew that reading was something I couldn’t do and there was no point getting upset about it.”

When the young boy started at Ralph Allen School, Oliver got through most of his lessons by listening intently to what the teacher said, and received one-to-one teaching support for some of his classes.

Although Oliver sometimes found the change of support difficult, his mum believes his experience of interacting with different teachers and teaching assistants helped to develop his interpersonal skills.

It was when Oliver approached his GCSE years that there was much discussion around the kind of support he would need to sit his exams, let alone gain the grades he was hoping to achieve.

But, he obtained one-to-one support 50 percent of the time, and throughout his A Level years had an assistant for all three subjects - which he claims made all the difference.

He even has a reading pen that can read out printed text, line by line, and computer software that can read words on-screen, and for exams, Oliver had his own room so that he could dictate his answers to a scribe.

Andy Greenhough, Headteacher of Ralph Allen, said: “I was astounded when I saw Oliver’s results on results day, We have known Oliver for seven years and have supported him through his GCSE’s previously.

“This was never going to be an easy journey, but we all knew how capable he was. It has been a labour of love with the staff who have been completely dedicated to helping Oliver achieve.

“This was a real team effort to support Oliver to achieve these results. We are all extremely proud and delighted for him. Oliver is excited to start preparing for the next chapter of his life at the University of Bristol, where he will receive study skills support, as well as a postgraduate mentor to help him find the right books and a peer mentor who is in his class.

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