When Billy*, a 12 year old Year 7 pupil was referred to Future Steps, he was refusing to attend four of his subjects. Teachers viewed him as defiant and non-compliant towards school staff which had also caused strains at home with his Dad.

After the first assessment with Future Steps, it was evident that there were some issues surrounding this pupil, and causes for his behaviour.

Very quickly, we identified that Billy was not coming to school because he was extremely anxious and worried about some of the teachers, and therefore using avoidance as a coping strategy. The 4 different subjects that Billy wouldn’t attend, were because he was too scared to ask for help when he was stuck or didn’t understand.

During Future Steps sessions we focused on talking through his worries and building his self-esteem and confidence to ask for help. We worked on a strategy that would allow Billy to communicate with the teacher without him being uncomfortable. Working in partnership with the Pastoral staff, we introduced a traffic light card system which meant he could communicate with the teachers discreetly.By displaying the Green card on the corner of his desk, it meant that he understood, Amber that he wasn’t quite sure and Red meaning that he didn’t understand at all.

This strategy very quickly gave Billy the confidence to go back into all of the subjects he had been avoiding by the end of year 7 and most importantly, the reassurance that it is ok to ask for help if you are stuck.

After overcoming his anxieties surrounding school, the focus of our Future Steps sessions shifted to Billy’s main passion, athletics. The fear of failing was so strong that Billy gave up racing all together. We focused on building his confidence and managing his anxieties about races and thanks to the Talent Grant we offer, we purchased him some running trainers that he had chosen to help him reach his goal of running for Hampshire.

Since using the Talent Grant, school staff and Billy’s Dad have all said that he has gone from strength to strength. He competed in the Junior District Cross Country achieving a race position that meant he was selected to run for Hampshire in the national cross country championships, and has subsequently only just missed out on a place in the Hampshire team for the English Schools cross-country a year early.

Billy’s Dad said that “From not having the confidence to race 4 months ago, he now races most weekends with the highlights being winning a medal at the Hampshire cross-country championships and going on to represent Hampshire at the national cross-country championships”

"Before we were offered the chance to work with Future Steps, family life was very strained because of the anxiety Billy was experiencing about school. The anxiety was impacting family time and it was a real shame to see the impact it was having on his development as an athlete. We sought medical help for the anxiety but couldn’t get any support. The school put us in touch with Future Steps and Billy slowly developed a great bond with his Talent Coach and after 3 months of support it was clear to us that Billy was embracing the support he was being offered as his confidence came back and it felt like we had our son back again.

Billy said that he feels ok about just missing out on racing at the English Schools but I know I’ve got a better chance next year because I will be in Year 9. I only lost to one boy my age and the rest were all a year older. It was the hardest race I’ve ever done! Doing Future Steps helped with my running confidence because I would have given up before but now I want to carry on and train even harder because I know I can do it! The trainers have really helped too, my Achilles used to hurt when I warmed up before a race but now it doesn’t even hurt!”

Brad, our Future Steps Talent Coach that worked with Billy has said that “He went from a boy that wasn’t able to see beyond his fear and anxiety to the boy who had confidence, self-belief and the conviction to be the person he wanted to be.

On my first visit to meet him, a deal was agreed by staff that he would be allowed to go home after meeting me and in that session he avoided eye contact, had his head down speaking quietly to the floor. It was from this point that he decided that the only way was up!

What stood out to me in the weeks to come was his absolute steely determination and courage to beat any obstacle in his way, regardless of how scary that may have been.

Despite the early success of his goal to return to the classroom and his improved mood, Billy decided that there was still room for improvement. In the coming weeks the boy that would be too worried to run a race in case he didn’t perform well, had set his sights on running for his county!

With newly purchased running trainers, a new chapter began for this now happily settled Year 8 pupil that runs for his club every week…his next goal is a small one, running for English Schools!”

Billy’s story is just one example of how our Future Steps service helps young people get to the root of any issues they are experiencing, helping them to overcome them and work towards their goals, and perhaps even raise the bar of what they want to achieve for themselves.

*The pupil referenced in this story has had his name changed to Billy to protect his privacy, with the consent of his parents.

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