Building a broad foundation – Ben progresses in academics and attendance Ben found it hard to stay positive at school, which was impacting how he approached learning and subsequently his motivation to attend lessons His Link Worker, Ragavi, organised for him to attend various sessions with our Delivery Partners that would help grow his academic confidence and emotional resilience Ben is now more engaged in class and has the tools he needs to maintain his new positive outlook Ben was a creative and sociable child, but he found it difficult to stay positive in class. This led to him having low attendance, and subsequently being below age-related expectations in maths and literacy. He was identified for the West London Zone programme in Year 2, using a combination of teacher insights and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a wellbeing measurement tool used to identify children struggling with their social and emotional wellbeing. As part of the programme, each young person is assigned a Link Worker, who becomes their advocate and mentor throughout the two years. Ben's Link Worker, Ragavi, soon discovered that many of Ben’s obstacles stemmed from struggling to focus and engage in lessons. When tasks were difficult, he would often get frustrated because he couldn’t communicate effectively with his teachers and thus found it hard to stay positive. Ragavi knew that improving Ben's emotional resilience would ultimately help him focus on improving his academic abilities. Flexing his creative muscles A key strength of the West London Zone programme is the collaboration between Link Worker and our Delivery Partners – these are local organisations that offer specialised support, anything from counselling to physical activities. Ragavi linked Ben to a few of these partners to help develop his support plan, focusing initially on his emotional resilience. Ben had weekly sessions with And Circus – a youth circus that challenges young people to step out of their comfort zone to gain confidence, working both individually and as a team. Ben was able to practise staying positive with difficult acrobatic tasks and also focus on his perseverance. Ben also attended art therapy workshops with Kite Studios, which nurtures creativity and promotes inclusion through art. Ben got involved with drawing, painting, textiles and pottery, all allowing him to flex his creative muscles. These workshops helped to boost his morale in school and gave him something to look forward to every week. Kite Studios uses art therapy to build children's confidence and encourage positive teamwork Building academic confidence Ben struggled with his maths and literacy, partly because of his lack of confidence as well as his poor attendance. With this in mind, Ragavi began to introduce academic partners to Ben. She organised specialist support with both The Children’s Literacy Charity, which aims to close the literacy gap for disadvantaged children, and Tutors Green, which offers one-to-one tutoring in a range of academics; with Ben, they focused on his maths. To ensure he was making progress in class, Ragavi, Ben’s tutors and his teacher worked closely together to understand his challenges and how to better support him throughout the school day. This joining up of all his systems of support meant that Ben had a stronger foundation to work from which resulted in improvement in his reading and maths skills. Overcoming lockdown blues During Ben’s programme, Covid-19 struck, which meant the original support plan had to be adapted. Despite all the progress he had been making, like most young people he found national lockdown a struggle, both mentally and academically. Furthermore, as he had no access to a laptop, this impacted his ability to learn via virtual school. However, through the West London Zone Opportunities Fund, which enabled us to provide food vouchers, technology and other learning essentials to families during the pandemic, Ben received a laptop. Ragavi was then able to continue supporting him, checking in on his progress each week and ensuring any momentum wasn’t lost. Young people were equipped with home learning resources via the Opportunities Fund Mastering his emotions Towards the end of his first year on the programme, Ragavi saw that Ben was developing better tools to manage his emotional self-regulation – something that had been holding him back. For example, he was starting to independently check his responses before reacting to challenges. Ben was also becoming aware that he was developing this skill, and was now able to talk through his emotions using techniques that Ragavi and his tutor at The Children’s Literacy Charity had taught him. “Ben is managing his emotions in a much more positive and healthier way.” The Children’s Literacy Charity Excelling in the classroom Equipped with new techniques to help manage his behaviour in class, Ben was becoming ever more confident. Prior to being on the programme, he was below age-related expectations in maths and reading, but had become increasingly focused and engaged in lessons. His literacy skills also soared, with his reading level doubling to be in line with age-related expectations. “He did really well – not only did he improve in his basic maths but he was very engaged and polite during the lessons.” Tutors Green As Ben neared the end of the programme, not only was he excelling in the classroom but his attendance also improved from 94% to 96%. He had developed a more positive outlook which impacted both his friendships and overall wellbeing, and the strong foundation that Ragavi had facilitated, built on targeted support and techniques, should help Ben continue on his path to a more engaged student.