My career was my education

It’s A Level results day in the UK and many students are weighing up their options for the future. I am often asked about the value of continuing with further education as students wonder whether they should continue with school or dive into the world of business.

Image by Owen Buggy

There are obviously some jobs like becoming a lawyer, a doctor, accountant or pilot that need formal education. But if you are struggling at school, don’t be disheartened – remember that when you’re faced with a challenge, you should always try and look for the opportunity. Many of the world’s entrepreneurs and business leaders had difficulties with school. If I had let my exam results define me, I can’t imagine where I’d be right now.

Being dyslexic, I always struggled with exams and I ended up dropping out of school at the age of 16 when it became clear that my school couldn’t teach me what I needed to learn, in a way that would work for me. I was - and still am - terrible when it comes to spelling and memorising information. I realised my strengths lay in creative thinking, looking at the big picture, my people-skills, problem-solving ability and not being afraid to say ‘yes’. Have a think about what you are interested in and what you are good at – and focus on this.

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Exams don’t measure incredibly important skills like reasoning, exploring, communicating and positively influencing - essential skills that the world needs. Dyslexics naturally excel at these ways of thinking, so we should value and celebrate this, instead of seeing ourselves as failures because we don't fit into the exam culture.

In 2019, it’s saddening to see the education system hasn’t changed all that much since I was at school and there is still a huge focus on tick boxes, memorising facts and spelling. In fact, recent changes to the system have made it even harder for students with dyslexia - and those who simply learn in different ways - to reach their full potential. The recent reforms have removed coursework in favour of one final exam and put a bigger focus on spelling and grammar. From first-hand knowledge, I know how disadvantageous this is for someone with dyslexia.