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Dyslexic Leek College student triumphs against the odds

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 24, 2014

By Abbey Buxton

  • Beth Knowles is off to university.

  • From left, Rebecca Williams, Beth Knowles and Robyn Johnson.

  • James Gibson, who overcame his dyslexia to celebrate A-Level success.

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A STUDENT with severe dyslexia was among those celebrating A-Level passes at the Leek campus of Buxton and Leek College on Thursday.

James Gibson, aged 21, from Werrington, picked up an A-Level in English Language and English Literature after working hard to overcome his special needs as well as coping with Cystic Fibrosis, which has led to him missing some of his classes.

He started college three years ago to re-take his English GCSE.

Delighted with his advanced level pass at Grade D, James said: "I think it's truly amazing.

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"If anything is testament to me not letting my dyslexia get the better of me, then it this.

"My message to anyone with dyslexia is not to view it as a bar.

"It just takes a little bit of creative thinking and students should just get on and do it. I did English just for me really. Just to show people that I won't be beaten."

James' tutor, Angela Whitfield, said: "If James didn't turn up for his class then we knew he had to be really ill.

"He was a mature voice in the classroom and has proved a true inspiration."

While working for his A-Level, James volunteered for office duties at the local charity Moorlands Home Link, which provides support to help elderly people keep their independence. He recently updated the charity's client database which extends to several hundred members.

He now aims to continue his volunteering to get work experience.

Overall pass rates at the Leek campus this year were high with 100 per cent of students passing A-Levels in Business Studies, Media, Sociology and Photography, and 84 per cent getting a place at their first choice university.

Three students achieved A* grades in Photography and, in Sociology, more than half passed with top grades of B and above.

Robyn Johnson, aged 17, from Cheddleton, picked up an A in Sociology, B in Media and a C in psychology, and will be starting a course in Sociology with Education with the ambition of eventually become a lecturer in Further Education.

She said: "I wanted to be a primary teacher originally but my tutors here in college, Kerry Sproston and Tom Ray, have proved my inspiration."

Beth Knowles, aged 18, from Ashbourne, was celebrating an A* in Photography, an A in Sociology and a B in media. She will be embarking on a degree in Photo Journalism at Staffordshire University in September.

Rebecca Williams, aged 18, from Gratton, is off to Derby University to study Marketing after picking up D grades in Media and Photography and an E grade in Business Studies.

She said: "I found out at 8am that I'd got my place at uni and I cried. It hasn't really sunk in yet."

There are opportunities to call into the Leek Campus on August 27 and Buxton Campus on August 28, both between 9am and 5pm, for students who would like to discuss A-levels and other options following next week's GCSE results.

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