Q&A: Achiever offers his tips for senior students

Randwick Boys student Jayden has just completed Year 11, topping English, Engineering and Mathematics Advanced in his first semester.

Jayden has a blood disorder, autism, dyspraxia and dysgraphia and his school has used an individual education plan, assistance from a learning and support teacher and disability exam provisions to adjust his learning and support his success.

He spoke to us about his experience at school, his achievements and his plans for the future.

In spite of some real challenges, it sounds like you’ve achieved incredible academic success. How did it feel to achieve first place in some of your subjects at school?

Honestly it was really surprising for me to see the results that I got for the half-yearly report! I’ve had many small successes over the years since starting high school, both in areas I strived for and areas I didn’t expect. But to have these results in the senior levels? Definitely a positive start to the year.

School has always had many challenges for me regarding my health conditions. Haemophilia, a rare blood disorder I’ve had since birth that prevented my blood’s ability to clot, forced me to spend many school days at home or hospital treating internal bleeds, or wheeling myself around in a wheelchair at school being too painful to walk. Not only that, I’ve also had to face many challenges in day-to-day life having dyspraxia, dysgraphia and autism, creating inherent disadvantages at school for writing and working. But despite these things, I still have still managed to maintain my motivation to achieve almost anything I strive for, and the year 11 half-yearly is just another example of this, being my most enjoyable year of schooling so far, with subject areas that interest me for studying mechanical engineering and partaking in future aspirations in motorsports.

What have been some of the positive and negative influences of COVID-19 on your learning?

COVID-19 has definitely brought an entirely new dynamic to our lives, and for me it’s brought on some unique challenges to my learning. Firstly, unlike other times I’ve had to stay home because of bleeds of being sick, this time has been for preventing me from catching the virus, which can just as easily be an extremely serious event as a nearly harmless one, knowing how it does or doesn’t affect other people, but also how viruses like H1N1 has seriously affected me in the past. This has meant that my contact to the outside world had been limited even before the official lockdown orders had taken place, switching my learning to online way before anyone else.

Spending so much time at home in the past, however, meant I was better prepared to start my independent learning than I would have been if this was my very first time, with the process made all the more seamless using my laptop that I acquired for school thanks to the Variety Children’s Charity.

The most helpful thing I’ve found from the experience is the teacher’s work at the start of term 2, with some giving online lessons for all of the class that helped us transition to the resumption of school, for which I am grateful for.

What have been some of the highlights of your time at Randwick boys?

I’ve had some great times at Randwick Boys High from the very start in year 7. I remember joining the school among the top classes of the year, also carrying my saxophone skills from primary school to the school band. I ended that first year with first in history and music, plus second in science and winning the George Dan Memorial Prize, in spite of my absences and being in a wheelchair at times.

Year 8 and 9 brought even more good results, with the latter year also including notable events such as my first electives and a speech for International Day of Disability. Year 10 was my most eventful year to date, with (Haemophilia drug) hemilibra allowing me to attend more school than ever and take part in activities like peer tutoring and a Year 6 electricity workshop.

This and next year will potentially become my most eventful years of high school, as I’m currently running for prefect and waiting for the results to arrive. I hope I can end year 12 on a high no matter what!

You’re about to start the HSC and you’ve already had a lot of success – do you have any tips for other students?

My tip would be not to aim to be perfect, but instead to aim to be your best and what you want to do. I believe that it isn’t about trying to get the best marks, but instead about enjoying what you learn and getting the motivation naturally from that.

I’ve never really tried to aim for particular marks in assessments or exams, but instead to just enjoy the process and make it relevant to what I want to achieve as a career. So writing for English, history or geography in Year 7-10 might not have necessarily related content to motorsports or engineering, but it does still improve my skills at interpreting information and writing something clear, concise and substantial, which I know is something I want to be good at for writing engineering reports.

Do you know a student with disability who would like to share their story in a Q and A? Email us the Disability Strategy team. .

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