DYSLEXIA meant that 58-year-old Stuart Ferriss never attained his goals or achieved his potential... but now he is excelling as an adult learner.

The community centre caretaker from Oldham has won a national learning award.

Stuart, whose dyslexia meant that he had difficulties with literacy skills at school, has won the Festival of Learning 2019 Return to Learning award, sponsored by City Lit.

Stuart struggled at school as a result of undiagnosed dyslexia. He had been told to sit at the back of the classroom, never improving his reading and writing skills.

He went on to work for many years as a joiner, managing with only the essential skills, but whilst working as a caretaker in a local primary school, he increasingly saw how his lack of literacy was holding him back.

With support from his employer, Stuart started attending the dyslexia study skills class run by Oldham Lifelong Learning Service and enrolled on a functional skills English course.

Stuart has worked hard to progress in his learning. While he suffered a set-back after being made redundant from the school, with his improved literacy skills, he was able to secure a new job as a caretaker in a community centre.

As well as securing his new job and building his confidence, Stuart is now a learner ambassador and an active member of Failsworth Carnival committee. He says that learning has had a profound impact on his life.

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.

Stuart said: “I’d hoped to achieve qualifications and take on more responsibility at work and in the voluntary sector. This I have done, but I have changed my attitude to life as well. I’m more positive and rather than let life happen to me, I make things happen. I’m no longer letting life pass me by.”

Janet McDowell, programme leader for maths and English at Oldham Lifelong Learning Service nominated Stuart for his award.

Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, Oldham Council’s cabinet member for education and sSkills, said: “We’d like to congratulate Stuart on his award.

“His story is really inspirational as he’s worked hard, never giving up but facing his issue head on. He has gained literacy skills and passed on his positive experiences to other people.

“Stuart shows it’s never too late to return to learning and explore the courses our Lifelong Learning Service has to offer to residents.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute, said: “Basic skills like reading and writing are essential for work, health and community life, but in the UK around 1 in 6 adults still struggle to read and write.

"Stuart’s story demonstrates how returning to learning to improve these skills can open up new and better job opportunities. We are delighted to present Stuart with this award and hope his story will encourage others to return to learning themselves.

"Festival of Learning is all about the inspirational stories of people like Stuart, which show that everyone can benefit from learning.

"Lifelong learning is vital for all of us as jobs and society change around us. We encourage everyone to give learning a try so if you’ve been inspired by Stuart’s story, and if you want to find out how learning could benefit you, get in touch your local college, community learning provider or the National Careers Service.”