GCSE results: Hard work pays off for Stansted's Forest Hall School students during difficult year
Students at Stansted's Forest Hall School are celebrating "exceptional" achievements as they were handed their GCSE results.
One highlighted for his outcome was Tommy Brown, who when he started school had resigned himself to a menial job with little prospects because of his struggle with dyslexia.
But working with the school's in-house dyslexia support unit (DSU) changed all that and on Thursday he collected one grade 9, a 7, a 6 and two 5s and is excited to be starting a film and media production course at West Suffolk College.
He said: “I feel pretty good about my results. When I was younger, I wasn't 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’ expectation 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 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's having those conversations in a comfortable space that really helps.
“I was always encouraged to keep going, even when I said I didn't want to. My teachers helped me so much.
"It's 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'll always be dyslexic and have that struggle; there'll always be those things I mess up or misspell. But the fact I can deliver my own work independently is pretty great.”
Beni Bafwa, from Stansted, collected one 7 and five 6s and is now heading to Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge to study psychology, French and textiles.
She said: “I felt a bit shocked when the exams were cancelled as I wanted to sit them. I was aiming for grades 6 and 7, so I got what I'd hoped for. It's been nerve-racking waiting to hear, but I'm happy with my results.”
Tia Akers, from Hatfield Heath, picked up two 8s and four 7s. She is looking to study art and photography at either Writtle College or Herts and Essex High School.
Amelia Jenkins, from Flitch Green, achieved four 9s, three 8s and a Distinction 2. She is going to study maths, further maths, physics and economics at Herts and Essex.
Head of school Hannah Jones praised the way students had coped with this year's unexpected challenges as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown.
“Sometimes in life things happen unexpectedly," she said. "I'm thrilled with how they've dealt with such unexpected change. They've really shown how exceptional they have been.
"Although they have not been able to physically be in school since March, we want to take this time to celebrate their achievements. As they open their results, they should be really proud of themselves. I am proud of them all.
“While this academic year may have been cut short, they will have many memories from their time at Forest Hall. I want them to remember their Forest Hall days and smile."