Finding the fun in school: Jade turns disengagement into motivation

  • Jade was falling behind at school and losing confidence in her abilities
  • Through working with delivery partners, Jade was given new opportunities to succeed and have fun at the same time
  • Thanks to joined up support, Jade’s engagement with school was reawakened, and by the end of the programme her confidence, wellbeing and maths attainment had all shown significant improvements.

Even those of us with lots of potential sometimes need a helping hand to realise it, and that was definitely the case for Jade as she started Year 5. Her teachers could see that she had lots of ability, especially with creative subjects, but they were becoming increasingly concerned with her lack of focus in lessons. Data showed that she was not reaching her age-related expectations in maths, English and reading, and Jade’s confidence was suffering. Further data collected by AllChild supported this assessment, and it also showed that she was struggling with social and emotional wellbeing. It was clear that Jade could benefit from some targeted support on the AllChild programme. 

A strong foundation

Jade’s Link Worker Beth began by providing the opportunity for her and Jade to get to know one another. Beth knew if Jade trusted her, it would make it easier for Jade to access the support and opportunities that Beth could provide throughout the programme. They met regularly for one-to-one sessions, played games and spent time together in the playground. Beth also joined some of Jade’s lessons to get a better understanding of how she was doing in class, and was able to support Jade when the tasks were challenging. 

Beth found that as this relationship developed, she was able to act as a bridge between home and school. Jade’s mum had felt as if it was hard for her to get a full picture of what had happened at school if Jade came back home feeling deflated (often as a result of a conflict with friends or a difficult lesson). Teachers would often share feedback, but getting information quickly was a challenge for Jade’s mum as there was such high demand on teachers’ time. Having a Link Worker in school meant that there was someone she could contact directly to stay more in the loop, the better to support Jade. 

The importance of fun

Towards the end of autumn term, it was clear that Jade would benefit from some support that would make her feel excited to be at school. Beth enrolled her into a programme run by one of AllChild’s partners And Circus. This consisted of a weekly workshop in which the children were encouraged to learn different circus skills to improve their confidence, concentration and motivation. Lots of these tricks and skills took practice and perseverance to achieve, and each week Jade would come to the workshop and head straight to the spinning plates to continue practising. It was clear that mastering this skill felt like a win for Jade, and one which she was excited about. 

A structure for success

The next term, Beth worked closely with Jade to work out what issues were arising in the classroom. They set goals together for some lessons, and created visual prompts to motivate Jade when she was feeling disengaged. Beth, Jade’s mum and Jade’s teachers could also see, after And Circus, that involving creativity and movement breaks in her school day could really help in making her feel excited to be in school.

With this in mind, Beth invited Jade to join a programme run by Tie Dye Drama, which runs weekly group drama sessions with a focus on reflective discussion and teamwork skills. The workshops also provide the opportunity for children to use improvisation to think about how to overcome challenges they might face in and out of school. Jade thrived in these sessions. She showed incredible focus and completed every project that was set, often helping her peers with ideas and suggestions too. She was able to contribute to reflective discussions held by the facilitator and found the confidence to perform in front of others at the end of the ten week programme.

This gave Beth the opportunity to share positive news about Jade’s engagement with Tie Dye Drama with Jade’s mum and teachers, and the adults around Jade were able to tell her they were impressed by, and proud of, the work she was doing.

Targeted academic support

The next opportunity for Jade was in the form of a maths tutoring programme run by one of our partners Team Up. With her tutor, Jade worked on the topics in maths she found particularly challenging. Despite disliking the subject, Jade chose to attend these sessions each week, often earning ‘star of the week’ status and receiving certificates for her effort.

After these sessions ended, Jade felt comfortable enough to work on her reading skills in a small group setting with her Link Worker. Her improved confidence was plain to see, as she would never have agreed to read aloud at the beginning of the programme. 

Stronger than you think

In the second year of the programme, Beth invited Jade to join a programme run by our partner Reclaimed. Reclaimed runs weekly woodwork and craft workshops in school with a focus on reflective discussion in small groups. In these sessions, children use reclaimed materials, learning how discarded things can be given new worth. Jade worked hard on creating a beautiful butterfly piece, carefully sanding down the wood and creating the butterfly using nails and string. Jade was incredibly proud of her artwork and having tried something new. Not only did Jade proudly show the Head of the School her work and hang it up at home, Jade also entered this piece of work into a local young people's art competition, naming the piece ‘Butterflies are Stronger Than You Think’. 

Ending the programme

Jade finished the programme having moved out of risk in three crucial areas: confidence, emotional wellbeing, and maths. She felt ready to tackle challenges in English with a new sense of self-belief in her ability. In her feedback survey, Jade wrote that being on the programme made her ‘actively want to come into school more’ and made her feel ‘excited about the future’. Jade has developed more positive relationships with teachers and is able to engage more with lessons. It’s clear that having the space at school to be creative, have fun, and explore her emotions has helped Jade feel more ready to learn on a day-to-day basis. Beth is so proud of the progress she made and the path she is on now as she approaches secondary school.

together, every child and young person can flourish.