Despite stigmas remaining around ADHD, neurodiversity is proving highly valuable to forward-thinking organisations, with people with ADHD calling it their hidden superpower. While some evidence shows it has been over-diagnosed in some children, recent data points to an under-diagnosis and lack of treatment among adults.
Hayden McEvoy was diagnosed with ADHD in Year 1 and has since thrived at school and gone on to start his own successful tutoring company. He believes in the importance of a student’s environment, rather than their ADHD diagnosis, when determining their potential. In this interview, Hayden shares his own journey through the education system, and why he developed a bespoke teaching model to bring out the best in every student.
- How have your personal experiences with the education system impacted the way you view the role of education in society today?
It has been interesting for me to be honest. I have spent my entire life studying high performance whether it be in swimming, school or business and high performance ultimately leads to the study of success in life.
I have learnt over the years the true meaning and value in the schooling system. It very closely replicates life in that you work (study and go to class) to then perform either on an assignment or exam – no different to a project or performance review in the workplace or a race in sport. I feel the true value in school is that it places us as kids into the game of life to align us closely with rankings, performance and hard work, etc.
However, I feel the education system fails to teach students, parents and even teachers this concept. Schools so heavily focus on curriculum and assessments and I believe a shift to training students on how to succeed in the game of school would better align them to succeed in the game of life.
I believe society and schools have a view that only smart or talented students will achieve in school and through 10 years of helping students achieve better grades, this is the complete opposite of what is actually possible and what actually happens. I have come to believe that ANY student can achieve success in school with the right mindset, strategies and support.
- What are some examples of how your personal education experiences have impacted the way you have designed and built your own tutoring company?
Over the years I have reflected on what were the core drivers of my transformation from D grades to A grades in school along with hundreds of other tutors (who are arguably the highest performers at school) and hundreds of the most radical/influential education studies.
I have found through all this that successful students all share three common traits. They all have a core and fundamental strategy or system they use to learn and succeed, they all have a growth mindset and think big and they all have a support team around them they use to help keep them on track and guide them. This is usually their tutors, friends, teachers, parents, cousins or siblings who have been successful themselves and now mentor them in doing so along their journey.
It is when these three pillars – strategy, mindset and support come together we witness true student transformation – and it is beautiful to watch! It doesn’t just change their end grades, it completely changes their motivation and confidence as a human being.
- In your view, is the current education system set up to empower children with ADHD to have the equal opportunities in the classroom? Why or why not?
In my opinion, yes they do. Studies and our own research has found the key ingredients in ADHD students doing well in school is their parents and their parenting techniques NOT the school environment or the school they attend.
School is designed to reflect life. It is the parent’s and student’s role to learn to adapt and succeed in that system over their journey at school as this teaches them how to adapt and mould to the game of life.
What I have found is the greatest reason this fails is the ADHD child’s parents have given up before the student has learnt to adapt to the school system. Another reason they fail is that the parent blames everyone else but their child as to why they are not succeeding, ultimately de-empowering the child themself.
I was diagnosed with ADHD in Year 1 and it was through my parents not giving up on me and the school supporting me and maintaining boundaries that led to me learning to adapt to the game of school and succeed within it. It took until Year 9, however I persevered and got there in the end. My parents never gave me an out or blamed anyone else for my grades but myself. This forced me to solve the problem myself and overcome it.
Over the years, the ADHD students who have succeeded the most with us are the ones who utilise a hybrid of A Team Tuition tutoring and a parenting psychologist – in our case this is my mum’s business – Positive Outcomes Psychology. This way A Team Tuition works with the student and how they approach their schooling and the Psychologist works with the parents and how they are parenting their ADHD child. Mum (Janine McEvoy) and I have transformed dozens of ADHD students together over the years, watching them go from failing to succeeding purely by providing strategy, mindset and support to both the student and their parents.
- If you could change one thing about the education system today, what would it be? Why?
I would embed our philosophy and program into the core of the school so that ALL students are provided the right strategy, mindset and support to help them excel and understand the blueprint of succeeding in school and ultimately success in life.
We are already doing this with schools all across Australia. Some of our most prestigious school partners are The Kings School in Sydney, Nudgee College in Brisbane, and TSS on the Gold Coast. We are currently partners with 14 major schools across NSW and QLD with our most elite partnership being with the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) where our aim is to partner with every Australian boarding school by 2025. We partner with them to teach our program to their students and to also work with all their parents who are looking for tutoring as they believe a hybrid of our tutoring service and their school leads to a much greater success rate of their students.
With our partner schools, we work with them as an added layer of defense to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed. Our vision is to provide every student in Australia the opportunity to succeed at school and this is one of the fastest ways we are doing this.
About the expert
Hayden McEvoy is the founder of A Team Tuition, a tutoring company that believes in empowering every student to reach their full potential. They cover Primary School, High School as well as ATAR preparation.
Image description: Headshot of a Caucasian man from the waist up, with his arms crossed wearing a white collared shirt and black blazer in front of a red and white wall.