Building strong foundations – Rhys works hard to get back on track

  • Rhys had some areas of concern across academics, emotional wellbeing, and attendance
  • The West London Zone programme introduced him to numerous support sessions, all supporting his emotional and social development, communication skills, and academic growth
  • Rhys has gone from ‘at risk’ to a more confident and happy young person, interacting with peers and teachers and on track to a more successful school journey

Rhys struggled in school, despite having a positive attitude to learning. He was averaging below his expected academic level, which was having a knock-on effect in other areas of his school journey.

He was selected for the West London Zone programme at the start of Year 2, thanks to a combination of teacher and parental insights and data collected through the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire – a wellbeing measurement tool used to identify children struggling with their social and emotional wellbeing. This questionnaire confirmed him as ‘at risk’ in a range of areas, although all inevitably linked; academically he needed support with his English, reading, writing and maths, his emotional wellbeing was also suffering, and as a consequence his school attendance was poor. 

Designing a targeted programme

Rhys was linked with his Link Worker, John, who understood the value of building a trusted relationship with Rhys, his family, and his teachers. These relationships would lay the foundations for the work ahead, and by understanding Rhys’s needs, a fully-rounded two-year programme could be specifically designed to help him get back on track. 

Rhys's Link Worker knew that improving academic abilities would improve emotional wellbeing.

The first part of the programme involved identifying Rhys’s objectives; John knew that improving his English and maths abilities would in turn improve his emotional wellbeing. Alongside this focus on academics, John also planned on providing Rhys with opportunities and exposure to various after-school clubs, coordinated with West London Zone Delivery Partners – charities working locally to give young people access to opportunities they might not otherwise have. These charities provide a wide range of activities, from tutoring to therapy to sports, and are a great way for young people to learn about themselves in non-academic settings.  

Learning new skills, learning to thrive

The delivery partners that John had in mind would ultimately help Rhys work on all his objectives; his social, communication, and literacy skills – including speaking and listening – and empower him to confidently build positive relationships with his peers. 

Young girl playing with balloons


Young people at a school desk doing some activities

Tie Dye Drama (L) and Kite Studios (R) are two local charities that we work with to provide specialist support

Tie Dye Drama runs inspiring workshops that allow young people to engage with contemporary issues through role play and open discussion. Rhys explored how to communicate and share his feelings, as well as to listen and help others with theirs. Ten of his peers attended the drama sessions with him, enabling relationships to develop through these informal social interactions. 

Arts and crafts with Kite Studios were also on Rhys’s schedule. He worked creatively with different materials, particularly enjoying drawing, painting, pottery and papier-mache. Getting involved with arts and crafts alongside other young people improved his confidence and allowed his creativity to flourish, which did wonders for his emotional wellbeing.

"Rhys was lovely to teach as he was always interested, involved and thoughtful about his and the other pupils’ work.’’ Antonia, Kite Studios

Step-by-step, building on each success

Lego Therapy is an evidence-based approach that uses children's natural love of Lego to help develop their communication and team-building skills. John provided these lessons with two of Rhys’s peers, building on the emotional and social skills that Rhys was beginning to develop. He was interacting more easily, more comfortable in his communications with others, and learning how to problem solve. 

Of course, all of these activities feed into improved literacy and numeracy skills – often without him noticing – but Rhys was given plenty of academic support sessions too. He received personalised one-to-one maths tutoring lessons, which followed the national curriculum. He also had regular reading lessons as part of our literacy mentoring programme with students from St Paul's Boys School

young boy playing with Lego

Lego Therapy uses children's natural love of Lego to help develop communication and team-building skills

The importance of a trusted relationship

John knew that these extra-curricular sessions would be more impactful if he maintained a strong presence back at school. He would often be with Rhys in the classroom, working under the guidance of Rhys’s teacher. He would arrange regular check-ins and interactions, including having lunch with Rhys and fellow classmates to help continue developing social skills. Rhys would also talk to John about the clubs he was attending, reflect on his learning, and – with John’s encouragement –  identify successes and areas to work on. But there was also always time to have fun and play games, and Rhys looked forward to his time with John, proud to be part of the programme; when crossing paths in the school corridors, Rhys would always say hi and wave.

"Rhys was a quiet, well behaved boy who was in danger of going under the radar and not receiving the support he needed as he was not classed as ‘high risk’. By being on the programme Rhys’s academics have significantly developed to the expected national level, and he is much happier in school, interacting well with his peers.’’ John, WLZ Link Worker

Rhys is back on track – socially, emotionally, and academically

When looking back to the early part of the programme, Rhys had multiple needs across academics, attendance, and emotional wellbeing, there seemed to be a long and complex journey ahead. But he has made brilliant progress in all of these areas. He is no longer ‘at risk’ in English, reading, writing and maths. His confidence and emotional wellbeing has also improved thanks to the numerous clubs he attended and the friendships made on the back of these. Even his attendance has drastically improved, from 86% to 98% – a huge increase, partly because Rhys now wants to be in school as much as possible! 

With the hard work of Rhys, and the support of the programme and of John’s targeted and personalised planning, Rhys is thriving. He is back on track and in a fantastic place going into Year 4 in the next academic year.

*Name changed and images unrelated 

together, every child and young person can flourish.