The celebrity TV chef, who was diagnosed with dyslexia while he was in primary school, shared a positive message to his Instagram page on the morning of GCSE results day on Thursday (24 August).
Oliver told his fans that while results day can be a “stressful time” for many, they shouldn’t let school grades define them.
“A lot of bright kids with dyslexia will be frustrated by what they receive, because the education system doesn’t play to their strengths – but I’m always keen to say don’t let this define you,” he wrote, sharing a picture of himself smiling in front of a green billboard promoting his first children’s book Billy and the Giant Adventure.
The TV chef, who rose to prominence after launching his campaign to introduce healthier eating to school children in 2005, reminded GCSE results recipients that school is “just one part of your journey”.
“The wider world is more open to you coming at life in a slightly different way. You don’t have to be conventional, you just have to have the confidence to do it,” he wrote.
“We need to embrace everyone’s inner genius, which definitely comes in different shapes and forms. Whatever your results today, I know you can and will achieve amazing things!”
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in fluent word reading and spelling, but it can affect a range of intellectual abilities.
Oliver left school at the age of 16 with two GCSE qualifications in art and geology before training as a sous chef. He went on to write his own best-selling recipe books and open his own restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian.
In 2005, Oliver launched a campaign originally called “Feed Me Better” to encourage healthier eating in schools. He infamously targeted processed meat in schools – a cause that the British government pledged to address.
The chef then starred in several TV series, including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Jamie’s School Dinners, Jamie at Home, and later, Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. In April, Oliver launched his first children’s book, titled Billy and the Giant Adventure, which follows friends Billy, Anna, Jimmy and Andy when they stumble across a gate into another world and embark on a new adventure.
Speaking about his experience having dyslexia while in school, Oliver told Made By Dyslexia in 2017: “I had nothing to offer at school, I didn’t learn much about myself at school. I didn’t feel compelled to excel or put any effort into my classes but I liked hanging out with my mates.”
He said in the interview that he felt there was a “stigma” against dyslexia while he was in school, and felt as though he didn’t receive the support that he required.
“School is quite rigid, everything is based on measurement but every child is different,” he said.
“There were only five people in my special needs class [at school] but three of them have done really well. I know people who left school with AAA who are on just above minimum wage,” he said.
“We have a massive problem in the country with under-mentored and under-loved kids that don’t see that you can be good at something very simple and turn it into a life’s work that you enjoy, that makes you want to get out of bed with a spark in your eye.”