Jack Harley-Walsh

A DYSLEXIC teenager who was turned away from 30 schools has started his dream course at university.

Jack Harley-Walsh first made headlines when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity at the age of ten.

A year later he faced the even bigger obstacle of getting into a school, with 30 secondaries across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey saying no due to Jack’s high levels of special needs.

The 18 year-old has dyslexia and dyscalculia, a combination that makes reading, writing and numeracy based learning particularly difficult, and at 11 years-old little potential of a long career in education.

After winning a place at St David’s College in North Wales however, the south Ascot resident excelled.

The school’s specialist techniques and dyslexia focused teaching helped Jack to a strong set of GCSEs in 2015.


At the time he told The News: “I just wanted the results to make me feel proud of myself and for my teachers to be rewarded. I’ve now got a big smile and lots of goosebumps.”

“It’s been tough living away from home to get this education but it is what I needed if I wanted to become an engineer and fly for the RAF.”

Two years later and Jack’s ambitions are still very much alive after he scooped a B in design and technology A Level, distinctions in science and production design BTECS and a place at Swansea University to study automotive design.

“It is a tremendous achievement for him and his teachers,” explained mum Sue Walsh.

22359152_10211923656384466_1290625919_n“To do his GCSEs was extraordinary. To get his A Levels and get to university is totally phenomenal.”

“He has ruined the family tradition though, because none of us went to university.”

In October 2015 Jack was featured in an ITV documentary in which he opened his GCSE results on camera.

He said: “I was the educational train wreck, no school wanted me, no teacher could teach me, even I didn’t want to be me. I just couldn’t learn the way most schools taught.”

“I know how lucky I am to have this much support from school so I don’t use dyslexia as an excuse I work with it and I have learned to have belief in myself.”

“I want to encourage other kids to feel the same.”
Source: Milo BoydDaily Post UK


  1. Gloria Thomas   •  

    When will we get our first Dyslexia Specialist School in Australia so that our under achieving, clever kids can realise their dreams as Jack has?

    • Sue   •  

      Gloria wouldn’t that be amazing! All schools everywhere should be specialists ! 1 in 6 with dyslexia /dyscalculia/dysgraphia makes it kinda common! 😉 Wake up world! You need their creative talent!

  2. Wendy   •  

    Delighted to read this-I’ve dyslexia myself-wasn’t diagnosed until my late 20’s when I was working in the Special Ed Dept in Berkshire. He may possibly have been one of our kids, just not my area – I dealt with Slough. Curious about the wording used in this article ..How did he WIN his place in school? This young man should have had a statement of special educational needs from an early age that made recommendations re his ed needs. It would also have freed up money for provision of same. Unfortunately it may be a reference to the fight his parents had to get him into that particular specialised school rather than a loval less specialised one. Either way I’m delighted for Jack… just curious re those words…

    • Sue   •  

      Ah well 7 years of primary school Jack left with a reading age of 6 yrs and 4 months and no calcuble maths score. So, sadly, it was never going to be a case of him slotting in to a secondary School as they can and do (clearly) turn children down if they cannot meet the child’s needs. Usually, because the teachers and assigned T.A’s have limited understanding or interest to teach the way dyslexic and dyscalculic children learn. Without differentiated learning techniques, it becomes a downward spiral for the child who absorbs these failings personally. ‘I don’t know how to learn’ was a frequent comment my visual learning child would damingly shout.

      It turned my guts every time the head or SENCO of a school said ‘ thank you for visiting but…. so Truly, it did feel like Jack and I had ‘won’ when this school said Yes we can teach your son.
      Our education system needs to hurry up and normalise dyslexia and dyscalculia. 🙂 Being separated from Jack has been dam tough.

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