Clare*, 14, joined Manchester Communication Academy (MCA) as part of a managed move after failing to settle in her previous school. Her teachers immediately found she had behavioural issues and suspected she had low self-confidence. Consequently, they enrolled her on the Teens and Toddlers programme, as Head of Year 9, Mr. Peter Hale, explains:

“The reason we put Clare on Teens and Toddlers was to put another step in place to ensure she was able to behave at MCA and earn a permanent place at our school. We thought she’d stand a better chance of doing that if we could boost her confidence and get her to engage with teachers and lessons, instead of almost solely interacting with her peers.”

Whilst on the programme, Clare confided in her Programme Lead that she was nervous about an upcoming meeting at MCA, where the school was ruling on whether or not to make her managed move permanent. Clare worried that her early behavioural issues at MCA would hinder her chances, and with exclusion a real possibility if the decision went against her, she was desperate to stay. Thankfully, she made such progress on the programme they decided in her favour.

“Christina [Clare’s Programme Lead] put in a statement highlighting Clare’s good work on the programme, but by then Clare had engaged with Teens and Toddlers very well anyway and we were happy with it. By the time of the meeting, she hadn’t had any behavioural problems for a while. So, she became a fully-fledged member of our school and she’s doing really well.”

Clare completed the programme in July 2018, and is now excelling at MCA. Her teachers have noted improvements to her confidence, her influence on her peers, and her communication with her teachers.

“The biggest improvement I’ve seen is her confidence and how she speaks to teachers. She’s gone from one-word answers and not asking questions in lessons to engaging in normal grown-up conversations.

“Actually, while I was Head of Engagement, Clare emerged as someone who’d recognise the improvements in other students as well. I could ask her ‘do you think I should put forward this person as most improved student in year 9?’, and she could articulate good reasons why another student had really upped his game.

“It’s the conversations you can have with her as a teacher now. Once you’ve got a student you can interact with like that, you’ve won half the battle because you can reason with them, whereas often young people in difficult situations put their barriers up and reasoning with them isn’t an option.”

*Clare’s name has been changed to protect her identity.