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Harry's journey back to school with Purple Ruler and the National Tutoring Programme

From anxiousness to confidence - we helped a student reintegrate to school life

Harry was enduring sleepless nights with anxiety and the thought of going to school was so overwhelming, it wasn't possible. But with the help of Purple Ruler, he's been able to return. This is Harry's journey...


Background

Due to ongoing health issues, Harry has not been in regular school since January 2022. In addition to his physical health, missing school for such a long period has also affected his anxiety. He fears that he has fallen behind his peers, and has a sense of dread at the prospect of returning to mainstream schooling.

We were tasked with offering Harry 1:1 lesson for mathematics and English over a five-week period during the summer holidays.


Our remit was to engage with Harry, boost his confidence, gauge his level compared to his peers, rekindle his interest in maths and English and to help him prepare for a return to school in the new academic year.

As a gesture to help Harry, and given that many of his classmates were already enrolled in our Summer School Programme, we offered the 1:1 lessons free of charge.


Obstacles to learning

Harry's school were delighted that we offered Harry 1:1 lessons to help him, but from experience they stated that he was unlikely to participate, would not engage with our tutors and would struggle to focus on the class content due to his intense anxiety surrounding school and learning in general. Liaising with Harry's school Harry's school SLT worked closely with our academic team to identify what content the lessons should cover, and offered personal advice on how to best engage with Harry. We had to carefully select the tutors to ensure that the sessions would make him feel at ease and to be something to look forward to.


Our core goal was to create a routine for Harry that he would see an opportunity, rather than 'more school work'. With this achieved, we believed that Harry would flourish, and find the confidence he needed to progress.

Programme overview Harry had two tutors over the five-week programme, one for English and one for maths. The lessons ran for 60 minutes, online, with content geared towards helping him catch up in areas that he had fallen behind.

The lessons were highly interactive, with extensive use of PowerPoint slides and video content which Harry worked through at a pace he felt comfortable with. After each lesson, our tutors wrote feedback reports on how the lessons went, and most importantly how Harry responded.


Here's what Harry's tutors had to say:

Maths

"Harry was fantastically enthusiastic today and I was really impressed with his mental maths capacity. He is very clear in the improvements that he needs to make and I think that his dedication to wanting to catch up is shining through for sure. He's sometimes a little quick to assume answers, because he doesn't like to get things wrong, but he just needs to take it a bit slower. The learning curve of today's lesson was focused on Number questions, specifically revolving around factors, multiples, primes, cubes and squares - which we'll recap next lesson."

English "Harry was fantastic at being able to engage with the English content today - I was so impressed with his comprehension and analysis. I definitely think we need to focus on SPAG going forward, he's very unsure and uncertain on how to make correctly punctuated decisions - but we'll get there!" Results Despite the challenges, Harry took full advantage of the lessons to focus on his weaknesses and bridge the gaps in his learning. His attendance was consistent (even though the lessons were held during the summer break). There was a marked improvement in confidence and willingness to offer answers, even when these were wrong.

The missed months of school had a negative impact on Harry's self belief. He was convinced that he was woefully behind his friends at school. In reality, Harry was not as far behind as he feared; with intensive focus on specific areas in both maths and English, his tutors reported that Harry would indeed be ready to return to school in September (if he felt confident to do so) and re-join the school community with a sense of achievement and new-found confidence.

Conclusion After five weeks, Harry and his mother agreed that he would return to school. Sleepless nights and deep-rooted anxiety over this were replaced with a renewed feeling of purpose. Our hope was to rekindle Harry's interest in the subjects and help him bridge the gaps; to see him return to school life was a crowning accomplishment for him and our tutors. Well done Harry. You are one of Purple Ruler's superstars!


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