Upon meeting Nick for the first time you get a sense that this capable young man is an integral member of the academy and local community. As part of the schools boxing interventions Nick also helps coach the younger pupils. “The school promotes and supports lots of different activities and encourages the pupils to achieve their goals”. However, Nick’s previous experiences of education haven’t all been this positive.
The ContinU Plus Academy is now Nick’s third placement alongside temporarily being at seven other schools, PRUs and academies. As a result his education has been incredibly unsettled. He hasn’t had a place where he belongs as much as he does at the ContinU Plus Academy. Nick was experiencing ongoing issues with gang violence in his local area and in previous schools. He has been under immense pressure from his own peers and opposing gang members that inevitably impacted his behaviour, attendance and relationship with authority figures. Due to this he has struggled to find a placement where he is happy, safe and able to learn.
He is a very capable and strong minded young man whose needs were often dismissed in other schools. People thought he was simply a violent young man with anger issues. He would lash out at others and staff would often have to physically intervene.
What impressed his parents the most about the CPA is the different approach and time the staff take with every pupil. “There is an excellent relationship between staff and their pupils, the staff are readily available to listen to all the pupils and take note of their needs”.
There was a fork in the road in his life and he worked hard to choose the correct one. The CPA has gone the extra mile countless times to help him along this journey and will continue to do so by working closely with all pupils and their parents/carers. His mother has often said “the communication with parents is excellent”.
To see Nick not only in full time education, but engaged in learning, studying and mentoring younger pupils is an incredible achievement. He is a talented athlete and trainer, articulate, influential and likeable young man who has the potential to be successful in any career he chooses.
Ewan joined us in year 11, the Head teacher at his previous school felt that if he remained there he would be permanently excluded. Ewan struggled with literacy and numeracy, communication and social interaction skills and also his self-esteem.
On arrival Ewan’s strength and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) score showed that he felt he had some problems with peer relations, for the first term that Ewan was with us he attended an intervention to target this, our ‘Talk about for Teenagers’ programme. At the end of the unit he felt he no longer required the intervention and his SDQ retest shows that problematic relationships with his peers are no longer evident, as his score has dropped to zero.
We noticed that Ewan obsessed about things and can over focus. When he was not clear about what is expected of him in a class situation, his speech quickened and he appeared flustered and unfocused. Staff were aware of this and ensured that work was differentiated to include extra levels of scaffolding.
Staff commented that over time he slowly demonstrated increased eye contact and his awareness of personal space improved. He gradually appeared happier and developed more friendships with some of the other pupils. His attendance also improved from 76% to 87.4%.
Ewan started a weekly hair and beauty course as part of his offsite provision. He enjoys this and his tutors remarked on his excellent progression. He was interested in a career as a barber. He was working with the careers advisor and was keen to progress onto an apprenticeship but was also at the stage where he was investigating further education at college.
Ewan’s main achievements since his starting point at the ContinU Plus Academy have been in the area of social development peer group relationships. In his previous school he had great difficulty in making friends and his social skills were poor. The nurturing environment at the CPA has enabled him to become a more sociable individual and this will help him in his journey post 16. His previous Head teacher commented that the ContinU Plus Academy has “rescued” Ewan and he was unrecognisable. His personality and clothing were different to his peers, in the face of difficulty and challenges from other pupils his remained himself and didn’t change under pressure. He brought a breath of fresh air and colour to the academy no other pupil could. If Ewan applies the same resilience and determination post 16 he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.