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Aspiration Awards 2022 - Against All Odds Winner: Oliver Poulter
Designed to recognise learners who have overcome difficult personal circumstances in order to succeed in their studies, the Against All Odds award is very special and always attracts a huge volume of nominations. This year’s winner is Oliver Poulter, a Year 10 learner at Whitworth Community High School.
A positive influence
Oliver was born with a degenerative eye condition that gradually leads to a loss of sight, which could happen at any time. Despite this, Oliver is a keen performer and studies the NCFE V Cert in Performance Skills. He throws himself into all his performance lessons, including dance, giving 100% in every task. Never fazed by any trips or falls, Oliver always picks himself back up and isn’t discouraged to try something again.
His optimistic attitude to learning has a positive influence on Oliver’s peers, and his fellow learners love to work with him during any class activities. An outside observer may not even be aware of the difficulties Oliver faces every day, not just while he is performing.
Full commitment and effort
As well as his resilience in lessons, Oliver demonstrates this in the wider school too, taking part in physical education lessons and Duke of Edinburgh activities with full commitment and effort.
To get around the school, Oliver uses a cane, and he has the support of a teaching assistant in the classroom. The school also supports him by providing an adapted laptop and enlarged paperwork. Despite his challenges, Oliver is always happy to get involved and responds with positivity and gratitude even if there are impromptu changes to lessons.
Oliver has extra tuition in addition to his school learning, to learn to read in Braille. He also has regular habituation lessons which include cane skills and navigating various things, including buses, trains, walking, learning routes and money recognition. Oliver’s teachers describe him as having a lovely nature and say that he is always the first person to wish you ‘good morning’ in the corridor.
Oliver said: “I enjoy just being me and being able to dance in front of other people. It was quite a young age, around five, I started dancing at the local dance studio and I carried on from there doing more and more.
“Even though I do have struggles with my eyesight, school has been really helpful. It’s not just about me, it’s about other people as well that are always positive towards me, and I appreciate people that are always there and that are positive.
“It felt nice to know that people are more aware of it now and that when my brother, who’ll be joining in a couple of years - he’s also blind – it's nice to know that he’ll have resources and he’ll have more help around the school. It’s nice to know that there’s more for people with visual impairments.”
Alex White, Drama and Performing Arts Teacher at Whitworth Community High School, said: “Oliver is a pleasure to teach and I think people underestimate how difficult things are for him as he presents himself so well. I’m absolutely delighted that he has been recognised with this award, which shows him that we really value his effort and his attitude to life. He is someone who we could all learn a lesson from."
Dawn Baker, Director of Innovations and Investments at NCFE, said: “It was very humbling to read the applications for these awards. It shows just how much some of our learners must cope with on their journey to achieving their qualifications. As such, it was also extremely hard to then select a winner, as I was impressed with the tenacity of all the entrants.
“I haven’t met Oliver, but I can tell from the application that he’s clearly a focused, determined, and engaging person. Not only does he give 100% to his normal school day, but he does so whilst also managing a deteriorating condition. And, if that wasn’t enough, he also must take extra tuition to learn an entire range of additional skills which will help him manage his changing life for the long term. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award, and I’m delighted that he has won.”
Our Against All Odds 2022 Winner: Oliver Poulter of Whitworth Community High School