There have been celebrations galore at Lichfield’s specialist dyslexia school Maple Hayes Hall today as pupils have been enjoying GCSE exam success.

School leavers at the innovative Staffordshire school have had more cause to celebrate than most, as many had entered Maple Hayes without being able to read or write when they first arrived at the site.

What has made the journey even more amazing, is that almost every pupil in the year group has secured at least five passes at GCSE, while also gaining a functional grade in English - the subject that has proven to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks throughout their school lives.

Almost all pupils are also planning on going onto further education this September.

In total this year, 22% scooped five A*-C grades, with 13% counting English and Maths GCSEs among this figure. 96 % of pupils at the school passed with grades including English and Maths.

Dr Daryl Brown, headteacher at Maple Hayes Hall, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with these results and they are a credit not only to our hardworking pupils, but to our committed staff who invest so much time - including weekends - in giving these youngsters a fair chance at life. For them to achieve such great results is most definitely down to their hard work and they deserve all the success in life.

“In fact, the results are nothing short of astounding, given that just a few years ago many pupils were trapped in a system which made them dependent upon support rather than independent learners,” added Dr Brown.

He said: “We have pupils not just from Staffordshire, but from the whole of the Midlands - including Birmingham, Derby, Tamworth and the Black Country and will take them from further afield if they have the means of reaching us. Our results show that it is not a dyslexic student’s academic ability - or lack of - that is the issue, but the teaching method deployed by most schools. Dyslexia need not be a life sentence of underachievement, as every single one of our school leavers has proven today.”

Jasmine Fox, aged 16 from Burntwood and a pupil at Maple Hayes Hall, secured 7 GCSEs. She said she was thrilled with the results, and added: “I was really excited about today and am so glad to get the results. I want to go and study Art and Design at Lichfield college.”

Jay Kirby, aged 16, picked up 8 GCSE’s today. He is going to go onto study ICT at a College in Sutton or Tamworth.

“I was a little bit nervous this morning but am so happy with my results. The school has been so good at teaching me and I’m really grateful to them.”

Head Boy Noel Whelan, aged 16, also picked up 8 GCSE’s today.

“I want to go onto study A Levels in Geography, Maths and Economics and eventually go onto university. I am really happy today,” he added.

The school, which was founded in the 1980s by educational psychologist and principal Dr Neville Brown as a lifeline for young dyslexics failed by mainstream education, steers away from the widely-taught phonics approach, instead using a unique morphological teaching method that uses icons to indicate meanings of words.

Turning out bright, able pupils with competitive GCSE results year on year, most have gone on to study at college and university - with some going on to gain PhDs. The school is proud of the fact that none of its pupils have joined the “Neets” (not in education, employment or training) statistics - despite youth unemployment rocketing.

This has been a particularly successful year for the school, as earlier this summer they were visited by Her Royal Highness, Princess Beatrice of York, who herself is dyslexic. She was given an exclusive guided tour of the school and the methods they use to teach pupils.

Princess  Beatrice spoke about her own struggle with dyslexia but said she had never quite been at such an incredible place as Maple Hayes School. She called the methods used as “outstanding” and urged pupils to never give up and take learning as a “gift and gateway to adventure”

PR by Clive Reeves Public Relations, Birmingham.

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