The road to success – Adam finds motivation to achieve at school

  • Adam was struggling academically and big changes in his home life were contributing towards behavioural challenges at school
  • Adam’s enthusiasm for the programme meant that his Link Worker Kamal was able to consistently hold him to a high standard to encourage his success
  • Through collaboratively working with Adam’s teachers, pastoral team and family, Kamal was able to support Adam to thrive in maths and overcome challenges both at school and at home

Moving from primary to secondary school can bring with it a host of challenges for many children, and Adam had the additional burden of beginning year 7 when COVID-19 restrictions were in place. After months of online learning and school ‘bubbles’, going back to the normal school structure was a struggle, only made harder by some challenges he was facing at home. 

Perhaps it was unsurprising then that Adam began to struggle with maths, and exhibit some poor behaviour. He was identified for the West London Zone programme based on the insights gathered from his family, teachers and himself via the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire and My Voice survey – a wellbeing measurement tool used to understand which young people would most benefit from our support. The data flagged that he was at high risk in maths and at risk in his attendance which was 90%. Due to the high number of young people at Adam’s school who met the criteria for the programme, he joined the WLZ programme towards the end of the Autumn term, when a place became available. This meant that Adam had seen peers join the programme, and having spoken to Kamal in the playground, he had become curious about what it involved. When Kamal was able to offer him a place he was eager to join.

Establishing the relationship

From Adam’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and insights from his teachers and Adam himself, Kamal was able to gain an understanding of some  challenges Adam was facing. He designed a personalised support plan to help him develop in areas of concern. Kamal first set objectives with Adam which included developing a more positive  attitude towards maths and overall learning, and improving his emotional wellbeing by providing him with the tools to manage his emotions in challenging situations. At the time of joining the programme, Adam was experiencing some hardships in his home life and so Kamal’s guidance was timely and crucial as he navigated this.  

Adam was excited to work with Kamal, who worked to build a trusted relationship with Adam through break and lunch time discussions and their mutual love of football, a sport that Adam was particularly gifted at. Through having these conversations, Adam was able to connect with his Link Worker which in turn helped him to open up to Kamal more. During their first term of working together, the solid foundations of their relationship helped Kamal work effectively with Adam on basic skills like following instructions. 

Offering a listening ear 

In the first year of the programme, Adam started attending counselling sessions with one of WLZ’s therapy partners. Kamal and his teachers felt that, as situations at home had escalated, Adam might benefit from having the opportunity to talk about it.

Kamal worked closely with Adam’s head of year and his mum, and was able to act as a go-between when needed.  He would let Adam’s mum know about his progress, and worked with school to use Adam’s love of football to encourage a more positive attitude, which Adam’s mum was very supportive of.

Building confidence

Whilst Adam undertook his counselling sessions, the next step was improving his maths attainment.  Kamal collaborated with his teacher and head of year to give Adam further encouragement to attend after-school maths support. Kamal would often take Adam there himself, but as Adam became used to this routine - and with encouragement from Kamal and his teachers, Adam began to develop the motivation to take himself to the maths club.

Kamal also recognised that extra-curricular activities would be beneficial and enjoyable for Adam. He saw how passionate Adam was about football and knew he would enjoy the opportunity to practise with Queen’s Park Ranger coaches during the school holidays. He arranged that Adam could attend the trip with his friends, but only if he was able to demonstrate that he could follow instructions the first time they were given at school to show Kamal that he could do the same on the trip. During the term, Kamal would actively remind him about his goal and, as the weeks progressed, would also check in with other staff to make sure he was observing it in lessons as well – earning him his place on the trip.

The road to success

Throughout his time on the WLZ programme, Adam has continued to develop positive relationships within school. He struggled at the beginning of year 9, on the second year of the programme, when meeting his new teachers who were not aware of his contextual needs and background but Kamal was able to both support Adam and his teachers on how to best work together productively.  

Through Adam’s hard work and Kamal’s commitment to supporting him in achieving his goals, he is no longer at risk in maths and has moved up one set category where he is currently at the top of his class – a fantastic achievement from when he was in year 8 in the lowest set in his year. Kamal also continues to check in weekly with his maths teacher who is constantly able to tell him how well he’s doing.  Adam has also made great progress with his counsellor, who equipped him with ways he can cope with challenges. 

Throughout the two-year programme Kamal was able to be a consistent role model to Adam, which was crucial to Adam trusting him and accepting his guidance. Kamal held Adam to a high standard so that he could understand the boundaries and expectations at school. Kamal’s presence in school also helped him keep his ear to the ground on any issues or concerns that arose so that they could be dealt with directly. This level of advocacy also helped Adam’s mother to feel supported and gave her peace of mind. Since beginning work with Kamal, Adam is a happier student but he is also aware that he is allowed to feel upset, confused and hurt when things are not going his way. He continues to play football at a high level, both in and outside of school.

Whenever Kamal and Adam speak of something falling to a lower standard then expected, Kamal mentions how he wants his first football stadium experience to be watching him play – a special phrase between them that puts a smile on Adam’s face as he remembers why he needs and wants to do well in school. We are excited to see how he thrives as he graduates from the programme and begins his GCSEs.

*Name changed and images unrelated

together, every child and young person can flourish.