Pedalling towards perseverance  – George’s West London Zone journey

  • George struggled with his confidence and his emotions, which affected his academic abilities
  • Over the two-year programme, he was connected with a number of specialist support partners, from tutoring to confidence-building woodwork workshops 
  • George now has a new positive attitude towards school, is more confident in class, and is on track to progress academically  

There is often a link between self-confidence and academic ability, which can’t always be addressed in the classroom. A young person may find themselves therefore on an unnecessary path towards low academic attainment, when early intervention could be all that is needed. 

Part of the strength of West London Zone’s programme is to look at all aspects of a child’s needs; social, emotional, academic, and confidence. Teacher insights are combined with a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a wellbeing measurement tool which helps to identify children struggling with their social and emotional wellbeing. Support can then be tailored, making for a much more effective and impactful programme. 

George was one such student. He came on to the West London Zone programme in Year 4, struggling with his confidence which was impacting his academics. He also found it difficult to self-regulate and communicate his emotions to others and would often feel quite negative at school.

Zones of Regulation

George was linked to Joyce, who was to become his Link Worker over the next two years – his champion, mentor, and trusted adult throughout. Joyce created strong relationships with George’s teachers as well as his mother, key to the success of any programme that she would devise for George.

George’s mother mentioned early on that he was worried about attending an upcoming Year 5 school trip, and was adamant that he didn’t want to go. 

Joyce began working with George on his emotions, using the Zones of Regulation, a framework used to support young people to understand their feelings, and learn various techniques to cope. Once George felt more comfortable talking to Joyce, he opened up about what was making him anxious about this school trip. This relational development and the techniques used in the Zones of Regulation helped build George’s confidence – to the point that he confidently decided to attend.

Reclaiming his confidence

As well as Link Worker support – which involves regular meetings, mentoring, and sessions – each young person on the West London Zone programme is also able to access one of the many Delivery Partners who work alongside. These are local organisations and charities that offer more specialised support, from maths tuition to art therapy to self-esteem building drama classes. 

One such Delivery Partner that Joyce connected George to was the Reclaimed Project, which runs small group woodwork sessions aimed at supporting young people to create their own products – and to develop emotionally and socially along the way. George really took to these sessions, feeling proud of the pieces he was creating. Being the oldest in this particular club, he was also able to take on a leadership role, developing the confidence to speak up and share his work as well as supporting some of the younger children when needed.


George took pride in his work with Reclaimed and was able to support his peers in the sessions.

A change in attitude to schoolwork

Emotionally, then, George was beginning to find his feet, developing confidence and self-esteem as well as methods to cope when he felt overwhelmed or anxious. But what of his academic growth? Knowing George was improving in this emotional wellbeing area, Joyce then reached out to Delivery Partner the Clement James Centre. This is a local community centre offering one-to-one tuition and academic support sessions, both at the centre itself as well as in school. 

For his two years on the programme, George took part in these weekly sessions, tutored in maths and English, and the change was tangible. He developed more confidence in his learning, his teacher noticed a difference in his attitude towards lessons, which was then reflected in his class work. 

Cycling to success

George mentioned to Joyce that he wasn't able to ride a bicycle, but that he really wanted to learn. She organised for George to take part in a West London Zone BMX trip – even though the children who usually attend are required to know how to ride. George was determined, confident now that he could learn a new skill. 

Joyce supported George's mother in finding a second-hand bicycle for him to practice on in advance, where he showed great perseverance. The day of the BMX session arrived, and George couldn’t wait to begin. At the end of the two-hour session, he was riding confidently along the dirt track, proudly showing to his mum what he had learnt.

The Bike Guys facilitate weekly BMX sessions to help young people improve their confidence and skills in an outdoor environment

A link between confidence and academics

At the end of the two-year programme, George’s mother and school were both impressed with his increased confidence in and out of the classroom. His newfound positive attitude towards learning impacted his academics, and his class teacher noticed George’s progression in his maths and reading, as well as his overall emotional wellbeing.  

Although the programme had drawn to a close, Joyce ensured that George carried on attending the Clement James Centre for his maths and English tutoring, as well as recommending George attend their young leadership programme for when he is in Year 6. 

George also has continued riding his bicycle…

together, every child and young person can flourish.