Finding his way – Nathaniel develops a new confidence in the classroom

  • Having recently relocated to the UK from abroad, Nathaniel was struggling with his confidence, peer relationships and academic progress as he adapted to his new school life
  • Nathaniel’s Link Worker, Juanita, carefully considered Nathaniel’s needs and interests and decided which partners could best support him
  • After one year on the programme, Nathaniel is making great progress and is excited to build on his achievements in Year 5

Starting over in a new environment can be a daunting experience, and for Nathaniel, who had recently settled in the UK, beginning at a new school was a big adjustment for him. He was in Year 4 when he was identified for the programme, and after evaluating his Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, an emotional wellbeing measurement tool, it highlighted that he was at risk in his peer relationships and confidence. From insights collected from his school, it was also flagged that he was at risk in his academics and so Nathaniel’s mother and class teachers agreed that he could benefit from the support of the WLZ programme, to build his academic attainment and confidence.

Adapting to a new school life

Nathaniel was paired with his Link Worker, Juanita, who would become his trusted adult and mentor throughout the two-year programme. To gain a better understanding of Nathaniel’s needs, Juanita spent the first term of the programme getting to know Nathaniel. She observed that, although he appeared self-aware and enthusiastic in their one-to-one sessions, he seemed to be withdrawn and disengaged in a classroom environment with peers. It was clear that he struggled in group settings and much preferred one-to-one engagements with Juanita, where he felt safe to ask questions and express his thoughts and feelings. To help him feel more comfortable in the classroom, Juanita created a personalised support plan that would guide him in his challenges and celebrate his strengths.

A carefully considered programme of support

Once Nathaniel and Juanita had built a trusted relationship, Juanita started to mobilise more specialist partner programmes to support Nathaniel in school. To best support his outcomes, she knew it was important to take a holistic approach, considering both Nathaniel’s academic progress and emotional wellbeing in parallel.

As Nathaniel had expressed he would like to play an instrument, Juanita organised for him to join an eight-week group drumming programme with Inspireworks. Nathanial was apprehensive at first; however, as the sessions went on, he felt more comfortable and confident within the group. He was able to demonstrate high levels of enthusiasm and even shared drumming rhythms he had created independently. 

Sharing his story

To build his reading confidence, Nathaniel began working with the Children’s Literacy Charity (CLC). During the time Nathaniel worked with Jill, his CLC tutor, he created a story of his own - including fantastic illustrations. Although it took Nathaniel a while to share his story with anyone, he eventually found the courage to ask Juanita if he could share it with her and, later, to present it in class. This was a huge achievement, as speaking in front of others was a big challenge for Nathaniel. Juanita printed a blown-up version of the story and illustrations for Nathaniel to take home and share with his family, which further boosted his confidence. As the sessions went on, Jill noted that Nathaniel was demonstrating very good focus and attention in his sessions. Nathaniel reflected with Juanita about the programme and said ‘I actually feel more intelligent.’

Children's Literacy Children work to close the literacy gap for young people

Throughout Nathaniel’s time on the programme, Juanita was sure to share these incredible successes with Nathaniel’s parents, often sharing photos of his work.

‘Happy to hear that good news and thank you very much for your time with him…’ Nathaniel’s parents

Alongside Delivery Partner support, Juanita also organised for Nathaniel to join a Lego Therapy Link Work Support programme – to support his social skills, encourage him to speak confidently in small groups and become an active member of a team. The structured sessions helped him understand what was being asked of him and he was able to articulate to his peers his thoughts and opinions. 

As the year went on, Nathaniel was able to push himself further out of his comfort zone, taking part in Queen’s Park Rangers football sessions on both a half-term trip and at a West London Zone Community Day. Despite initially feeling anxious about playing with a group of young people he didn’t know, he did not let this hold him back. He engaged with the sessions and socialised with his peers, even demonstrating his newly learned skills in front of the group.

Nathaniel took part in a football session during a West London Zone Community Day 

Looking ahead to the future

Nathaniel has one more year on the WLZ programme to continue building on the significant successes he has already achieved. Juanita plans to mobilise different opportunities to support Nathaniel in further promoting a more positive, resilient and confident approach to his learning in the classroom. 

*Name changed and images unrelated

together, every child and young person can flourish.