Jason Arday sitting on a bench smiling.

1985 –

“I knew I didn’t necessarily have huge amounts of talent, but I knew how badly I wanted it and I knew how hard I wanted to work”.

Jason was born and raised in South London. At the age of three he was diagnosed with autism. He also had global developmental delay which means he was delayed both mentally and physically in his development. This led to him having to learn sign language, as he did not learn to speak until he was 11 years old. He didn’t start reading and writing until he was 18 years old.

He left school with two GCSEs in PE and Textiles. His self-belief urged him forward to continue his studies. He worked in shops to fund himself through several degrees and a PhD. His main area of work is looking at the History curriculum in the UK and the way it is taught. He focuses on how it often leaves out the contribution of Black British history. He has called for the decolonisation of the curriculum to reflect the diversity of today’s society.

Amazing People Schools has a wide range of resources to support Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. These include Amazing Neurodiverse People and Amazing Black Britons.

Whilst studying for his PhD, Jason wrote on the wall of his bedroom “One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge”. In 2023 this became true, and Jason is now the youngest ever Black professor at Cambridge University.

Jason is now using his position to encourage others and to help change the system to collectively support equality, diversity and inclusion, especially of Black and ethnic minority students.

Jason is using his position to help others like him to achieve – It can be difficult to put others ahead of yourself and your own ambitions. When might you be able to demonstrate this level of humility at home or school?

Jason had to use sign language to communicate until he could speak; in this way he learnt to overcome his communication barrier with others; when you have experienced something difficult, consider what actions you took to persevere and overcome to reach your end goal.

Photo: University of Cambridge