Before joining Progress Schools, Ellie experienced low levels of self-esteem and confidence that led to anxious emotions and thoughts. Due to the pandemic, Ellie lost her usual routine and had little exposure to the outside world, which left her filled with feelings of worry and uncertainty.
Her unwillingness to leave the house negatively impacted her relationships, friendships, and school life.
In September 2020, Ellie joined Progress Schools Hamilton Square on a 6-week reintegration programme, with hopes of returning to mainstream school to complete her GCSEs. Ellie said: “I really wanted to go back to mainstream so I could complete my GCSEs.”
Staff at Progress Schools immediately recognised that Ellie required pastoral intervention to support her emotional and mental well-being.
During her settling-in period at Progress Schools, Ellie was very quiet and nervous and often found it difficult to engage in lessons.
To support her integration, Ellie attended weekly 1-to-1 sessions with her Learning Engagement Mentor and had regular catch-ups with the Head of School.
This was a chance for the staff to build a rapport with Ellie and get to know her better. It also meant that staff could provide Ellie with tailored support to help her develop.
These sessions operated as a safe space for Ellie to share concerns or worries and work with staff to develop techniques to manage her feelings.
Ellie completed different exercises that centred around confidence building and maintaining positive relationships. She was able to use this time to identify the things that made her feel worthy and recognise her value, particularly as a friend.
It wasn’t long before her confidence began to flourish. Her engagement in lessons improved, and she even took part in role-play activities and charity events. In October 2020, Ellie played a pivotal role in Progress Schools’ Macmillan Coffee Morning, helping with planning and handing out tea and coffee to attendees at the event.
The positive changes to Ellie’s outlook and attitude were even noticed by her mum. During regular catch-ups with Progress Schools, Ellie’s Mum expressed how pleased she was with her progress. She even noted how Ellie had begun socialising with her friends again and how thankful she was to the staff for helping her regain her confidence.
In November 2020, Ellie’s mum, Progress Schools, and the referring school met to discuss her readiness to be reintegrated into mainstream school.
Ellie’s progress inside and outside the classroom shone and spoke volumes of the positive changes Ellie had worked so hard to achieve at Progress Schools. The school immediately expressed their confidence in Ellie returning.
Ellie said: “I am so happy I came to Progress Schools. It’s really different to school, you get more time to spend with teachers and it’s good to be in smaller groups because you get to know everyone in the school, not just your class.
“The teachers were so friendly and helped me so much.”
Ellie also expressed how useful she found her mindfulness sessions at Progress Schools and was keen to continue this at mainstream school. She said: “I really enjoyed my mindful lessons and going for walks. My school even said I will be able to carry on my mindfulness work when I go back.”
Ellie’s story is a prime example of the difficulties faced by young people, not just academically but mentally and emotionally, and the tailored approach that Progress Schools puts in place to support their students.
Progress Schools’ ‘not-one-size-fits-all’ approach places the individual needs of each student at its heart.
Progress Schools Hamilton Square first opened its doors in September 2017 following the closure of the PRU which operated across the Wirral.
Initially, the Wirral-based school was commissioned by the Local Authority for a two-year pilot that would see it deliver a ‘Re-Integration Programme’ to Key Stage 3 students. Since then, the offering has evolved substantially, and the school now offers several programmes for students across Key Stages 3 and 4.
In the academic year 2019/20, 77% of students who attended Progress Schools in the Wirral progressed to positive destinations.