Referrals Line 0203 409 6410

Contact us
Contact us



Overcoming the fear of change

Follow the story of a young person's progress towards reintegration... from the perspective of the Education Specialist.


It’s the first day of what can only be described as the most amazing eleven months! We arrive to meet our new student and he’s visibly anxious. I start to think about how challenging this is – two strangers turn up at your house and take you to a community centre you’ve never visited before. I find myself thinking – who wouldn’t feel anxious? As Educational Specialists, we go to new places all the time and meet new people regularly. So, I say to the young person, “I feel a bit nervous starting something new too.”

The ice is broken... a relationship established and then further cemented when our young person realises that he can tie me into all sorts of knots during a game of Twister, but I’m not about to quit the game! The wheels are in motion... the provision has commenced and it’s off to a great start.


First things first. Slime is a very important part of our day, so in addition to lots of shop-bought slime, we’ve progressed to making our own. Now our resource bag is full of smelly and messy ingredients. We’ve become experts at hiding the evidence from the extremely fastidious community centre staff. Old tea towels, kitchen rolls and wipes are an essential part of our kit and clean-up-operation. Stealthily, instructions for making slime and playdough are sneaking into the sessions too. Before long the young person is following these instructions! This quickly progresses to making disgusting-smelling potions, the ball is rolling...


It’s time to tackle some work, specifically reading. The initial response to this suggestion isn't especially positive. I quip, "What better way to tackle it than within these four walls – just us, no pressure – and once you’ve learnt that’s it. Job done!" We are greeted with a slightly reluctant "Okay." At first, we had to devise games incorporating reading sounds and tricky words. But after a few weeks, flashcards are enough. As the weeks progress and the pile of flashcards grow smaller and smaller, the young person's confidence grows more and more. Progress!


CHALLENGE. Our student wants to make friends with other young people. My mind is buzzing. We can provide so much for our young people but socialising with friends requires next-level creative thinking. We start with trips to the pool for swimming, followed by lunch at the park. We notice a few young people in alternative provision there too, also keen to connect and make friends. This stage is pivotal to preparing the young person to return to school. As the weather improves, we begin to visit new parks in the area and meet a variety of people on different days. It doesn’t take long to establish a timetable for education and socialising. At this point I notice our young person is becoming more confident, willing to talk to new people and no longer anxious about anything at all. This is huge!


TURNING POINT. We have a good timetable in place now and it's working well. Mornings for learning and socialising in the afternoons. Our student is also feeling comfortable speaking to community centre staff and even members of the public. We’ve started a piece of work on how to manage conflict whilst socialising with other young people. He's now in such a good place. Not only is he able to choose strategies that prevent a conflict from escalating, but he also seeks to resolve it. It’s all going so well when something truly amazing happens. Due to his incredible progress, it’s been decided that this young person no longer needs two adults to support him. He is fine with just one!!

A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION - “I don’t need two adults with me now because I’ve worked hard and also, I can read, and I’m no longer scared of it.” Click To Tweet


We start a new academic year, and my student is immensely proud of the fact that he no longer needs two adults to support him. He’s reading fluently and accessing all areas of the curriculum. He enjoys telling the community centre staff about his progress and then one day he comes out with, “I don’t need two adults with me now because I’ve worked hard and also, I can read, and I’m no longer scared of it.” Well - that was a day I will never forget! We have been invited to join a forest school group that we became friendly with on one of our many park visits. My student is keen to engage and socialise. This has been a very positive experience for him.


By this point, my student has made enough academic progress that schools are starting to show an interest in him. He begins with site visits, and keeps moving forward, until one day he is offered a place. It all happens so quickly! One minute he's going for a visit, the next he is offered a place! I meet up with him the following afternoon and am greeted by a young person, exuding an air of self-confidence, pride, and maturity. He seems even taller now, standing more confidently and surer of himself. He knows he's ready.


REFLECTION. Looking back on the last 11 months, it's hard to remember the nervous 11-year-old I first met. This young person has embraced all the values that FSiE embody. He has re-engaged, accepted education, learnt to read, developed his social skills, and quite-simply became school-ready. He is now a young man ready to embrace the next chapter in his life. His future looks promising. I’m immensely proud of his progress, his hard work, and his willingness to change. What an absolute privilege it has been to have walked alongside him for this chapter of his life, to see him come out of the shadows and grasp his future with both hands. What a success story!

About the author

Anouska Riggall

Anouska is a qualified Primary School mainstream teacher, with 20 years experience in this sector. She has also worked with learners with low attainment levels, those with undiagnosed emotional difficulties, ASD, ADHD and challenging behaviour, and uses her skills to champion young people to achieve their goals.

To get in touch with a member of the Fresh Start in Education team, click here

Contact and Support

0131 341 4380

Northern Ireland
02896 206 040

0191 691 0884

01202 497 193
01217 946 504

South East
01622 963 498

0203 409 6410

South West
01392 790 678

Company Information

VAT Registration Number: 317 1675 06
Registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office No: Z2898392

Fresh Start in Education Ltd is a Limited Company incorporated in England, Wales & Scotland
Registered No: 7133204
Scotland Registered No: SC591697

Registered office: 
2nd Floor 32-33 Watling Street, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom, CT1 2AN
Scotland registered office:  4th Floor, 115 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4JN
homeapartmentcrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram