Billy Broadbent;Profile;Cover story;Dyslexia Awareness Week

29th October 1999 at 01:00
Billy Broadbent left Roundhay School, Leeds, last year with three A grades and a B in English Literature; Media Studies; Sociology and General Studies and is now at Leeds Metropolitan University studying event management.

His ambition is to manage big corporate shows. When the headteacher's job came up at Roundhay three years ago, everybody jokingly said Billy should apply for it because he was so involved in every aspect of school life. He worked on the school's switchboard, he ran the mentoring scheme, he chaired the discipline review committee, he stage-managed the school's shows. He loved Roundhay because the school had given him a new lease of life.

Billy is severely dyslexic and has a spelling age of nine. He can read in short chunks, but often misreads words. Middle school had been a nightmare. "I managed at primary but middle school hit me like a brick wall. My spelling and reading were so poor, my short-term memory appalling. I would confuse names and I was clumsy and I couldn't kick a ball. The school knew I was dyslexic but some of the teachers wouldn't accept it. In the end I refused to go back.

"Roundhay was my escape. Linda Riley and Suzanne Jakeman are exceptional teachers but I made a decision when I went there only to do the things I was good at. So I listened in lessons and developed my memory instead of writing notes. I didn't write during my A-levels, I dictated essays to a secretary.

"Even the head tried to persuade me to give up my extra-curricular stuff during my A-levels and I just kept saying 'I know I can do it all'. If I hadn't got the grades I would have got hammered!"

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