Finding his future – Ziko develops the confidence and skills to succeed

  • Ziko was identified as being at risk across a range of factors, including low-confidence, school engagement, and academic attainment
  • Thanks to the support of his Link Worker, Fembe, who arranged support sessions with a wide range of West London Zone delivery partners, his skills, ambitions and self-belief improved significantly
  • At the end of his first year on the programme, Ziko is looking forward to his future, and is on track to achieve his potential

Ziko was starting his first year at William Morris Sixth Form College when he was identified for the West London Zone programme. Aged 16, he was suffering from low-confidence, poor engagement, and low academic attainment in English and maths – all of which meant a lack of extracurricular activities and opportunity-seeking at a time when lots of young people begin thinking of careers and the future.

Providing an opportunity for Ziko

Ziko speaks multiple languages and had lived in Spain for a number of years before arriving in the UK. He generally had a positive mindset towards learning, but had been met with various challenges in relation to his secondary education, with school grades largely affected by the disruptions of the global Covid-19 pandemic. His teachers were concerned about further impacts on his maths and English, and his tutor observed some difficulties with peer relationships, particularly meeting new people and making friends. 

The West London Zone programme is underpinned by school data, teacher insights, and a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a wellbeing measurement tool which helps to identify children struggling with their social and emotional wellbeing. Through this questionnaire, and during early conversations with teachers, Ziko, and his parents, it was clear that the West London Zone programme would provide the opportunity for Ziko to improve in these at-risk areas of development.

Encouraging self-belief

The role of a Link Worker is to champion the young people they work with, to act as a mentor, trusted adult, and supportive presence, as well as to facilitate the two-year programme. Ziko was linked with Fembe, who worked alongside him every day.

Fembe first focused on one-to-one meetings, outlining some achievable goals for Ziko, while other support sessions covered mindfulness, career advice, and ‘Thinking About Thinking’ – an evidence-based academic programme that builds confidence in English and maths ability through metacognition strategies.

Ziko gradually opened up about his low confidence and Fembe began creating a plan of support that would build his self-esteem, communication skills and confidence in his aspirations. He arranged for Ziko to take part in two media company workshops led by two West London Zone partners, Starcom and the Media Trust, who came to the sixth form to run full day workshops on advertising and virtual blogging. Ziko contributed his ideas to the group and this culminated in the successful submission of his own virtual blog on gaming to the national Media Trust vlog competition.

Improvement in academics

Finding his self-confidence meant Ziko was starting to have more confidence in his academic abilities, responding well to positive encouragement and practical tools. Fembe organised weekly tutoring sessions with another delivery partner, Get Further, who offered small group academic catch-up sessions for GCSE English and maths throughout the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms. Get Further encouraged Ziko to focus on his school work, aim high, and gave him tools to manage workloads and exam pressures. 

During the course of these sessions, Ziko received positive feedback from both his tutors, Matt and James, in their weekly reports, as he made his way through the programme. Ziko told Fembe about how he felt these sessions had helped him:

“It was really wonderful and fun as I learned a lot and was able to mostly not be stressed thanks to them”

Developing Ziko’s creative skills

Alongside his weekly sessions with Fembe, and his tutoring sessions with Get Further, Ziko also took part in a series of creative social skills and development workshops, led by West London Zone Delivery Partner 2-3 degrees, a social enterprise that creates a safe environment for young people to equip them with personal development skills.

He was also an active student member of a film project, set up and led by Fembe, that captured the essence of living in West London, what it means to students and how it shapes their identity. Ziko filmed in parts of West London, co-created a poem ‘My West London’, recorded audio and chose the soundtrack for the footage and credits.

2-3 degrees supported Ziko in developing career-minded goals for the future

Gaining an insight into careers 

Fembe also arranged for Ziko to develop his career-minded goals, such as a summer programme called The Earls Court Future programme with 2-3 degrees, which developed his communication, networking, presentation, negotiation, employability and team building skills through a series of workshops. Ziko also participated in a work experience insight day with another West London Zone partner, Be UK Shaping the Future, a management consultancy firm. Here, he learnt about professional pathways, particularly FinTech and marketing, and what management consultancy means in terms of organisational change. Ziko created a new product which he named Virtual Reality Contact Lenses, with full branding including a logo, slogan and marketing materials, and successfully pitched it to the company’s CEO.

A positive pathway to fulfilling his potential

As of August 2022, Ziko is only halfway through his West London Zone two-year programme but is already on a positive pathway to fulfilling his potential. From struggles with his confidence, peer relationships and academic ability, he is now no longer at risk in school engagement, his teachers have seen a significant improvement in his academics, and he has near 100% attendance across his subjects. 

Furthermore, low confidence is no longer a barrier to accessing opportunities and planning his future, and Ziko now hopes to look into apprenticeships alongside university courses. He has many new ambitions, and is thinking of using his language skills and his interest in law and business to work and travel abroad in Italy. 

At the end of his first year on the programme, Ziko told Fembe:

“Before West London Zone I tended to be a bit bored and lost as to what I could do outside of school… Now I am mostly confident in what I can find around my local area, and on what I can do to have a better impact on myself and on my community”

*Name changed and image unrelated

together, every child and young person can flourish.