Media release: Dyslexic pupil designs a new future as an architect

A YOUNG man diagnosed with dyslexia and who left school without qualifications has been accepted to study architecture at one of the country’s most celebrated art schools.

Gordon McDonald (22) from Renfrew, has been awarded a SQA Star Award for Best College Candidate at a ceremony held in Glasgow Science Centre.

The awards recognise candidates who have overcome personal challenges or have put their qualifications to good use.

Gordon was recently accepted into Glasgow School of Art after years of hard work, supported by careers services and funding through Skills Development Scotland’s Get Ready for Work (GRfW) programme.

Says a spokesperson: “His dyslexia made it difficult for Gordon to engage with mainstream education and he left school in 2003 with no academic record. However, committed support and guidance from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and its partners have helped Gordon maximise his previously hidden talents and he is now training for one of society’s most demanding professions.

“After successfully completing Reid Kerr College’s New Direction project, which provides academic and vocational assistance for underachieving school pupils, Gordon began an eight-week work placement with Renfrewshire Council which encouraged him to consider a career in construction.

“Keen to explore the industry further, Gordon secured a placement as an apprentice joiner through the GRfW scheme. GRfW is targeted at young people between 16-19 who are not in sustained employment or education and is designed to equip them with core skills to boost their employability and fill any knowledge gaps.

“This experience in the construction industry led Gordon to discover his passion for architecture, paving the way for his return to education.

“He has since completed a National Certificate and HND in Interior Design. His hard work paid off this year when he was accepted to study architecture at Glasgow School of Art – famed for its high-calibre students including two former Turner Prize winners. Impressively, he was also offered places at Glasgow Caledonian and Strathclyde Universities.

“Now Gordon’s hard work has been further recognised with the SQA Star Awards hosted by Kay Adams.”

Gordon said: “It can be difficult to know what you want to do with your life when you’re at school and it was made even harder for me because of my dyslexia.

“To have been accepted into Glasgow School of Art is a real triumph for me. Although I know it’ll be a long journey, I hope to build on my success there and eventually achieve my dream of becoming an architect.

“I’ve been really lucky to have been given the tools I needed to find the right path and the support I’ve received to get me this far has been invaluable.”

Damien Yeates, chief executive of Skills Development Scotland, said: “We are hugely impressed by Gordon’s story. The study, commitment and determination needed to become an architect is no mean feat.

“Gordon has clearly worked hard to get to this point and his story highlights what can be achieved if you seek the right support and have the will to succeed.

“The Get Ready for Work programme is designed for young people who want to gain the core skills necessary to become more employable. The programme often acts catalyst, showing young people how they can progress into successful careers by filling their skills gaps.

“This is what GRfW did for Gordon and he is an inspirational example of someone who has accessed the resources available to kick-start a very promising career.”

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Contact: SDS