Student told she would fail GCSEs gets into top art university

A Millfield student told by a previous school ‘she would never pass GCSEs’ is celebrating gaining a place at one of the UK’s top art universities - with the best portfolio they have seen this year.

Upper Sixth Ella McEwan was previously told that continuing in education was futile due to her severe dyslexia.

Today, she is celebrating achieving D* D* D* in BTEC Art and Design and is going on to study at the prestigious UAL Chelsea College of Art and Design, one of the country’s top art universities. The university told her she had submitted the best portfolio they had seen this year.

Ella, from Monmouth in Wales, joined Millfield in Year 9 and has benefited from Millfield’s Learning Support Centre to assist with her dyslexia through weekly lessons, learning with specific teachers and having small class sizes for every subject.

Ella said, “The teachers go out of their way to support you. The department has given me the confidence to be comfortable being myself and with my dyslexia, as there is still quite a stigma surrounding learning differences. They have also helped put me forward for activities such as speaking on webinars about my personal experience as a dyslexic, and suggesting to take the BTEC Art and Design course at Sixth Form. I have loved every minute of it.”

Ella addressed the school’s teaching body during Inset training last year, giving them an honest account about what it is like to be dyslexic and how they can adapt their teaching to help students.

Headmaster Gavin Horgan said, “Ella is the perfect example of someone who has overcome adversity to achieve their dreams. Her story is a remarkable one of hardwork, resilience and determination. Dyslexia should never be viewed as a disability that will hold someone back, it is a super power that those individuals can harness as they see things in a different way that others may not. The UK education system should be championing dyslexic thinking skills and adapting teaching methods that would ultimately help every child in the classroom, not writing them off at an early age. To see Ella go on to study at one of the UK’s top art universities is fantastic and hugely deserved. Congratulations Ella.”

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The pupils in Years 3 and 4 had the chance to compete in two different sports sessions and meet 2022 Commonwealth Games gold and silver medals winner in swimming Brodie Williams and bronze medal winner in hockey Stuart Rushmere, both former Millfield pupils.