Senel had been concerned about her daughter Chelsey’s attitude to school for some time before learning about Kineara’s intervention, Motivate to Educate (M2E). Here, she describes Chelsey’s journey to becoming “a completely different child.”

“The stuff Roz has shown her, it’s like she’s a completely different child. She got high grades in her exams…She’s just not the same. It’s amazing!”

said Senel.

“If you see how she was in the beginning. Not that she wouldn’t speak to us, she just found it hard to express herself.” explains Senel. “She used to come home and she’d slam doors… She wouldn’t interact, she wouldn’t talk about her problems, she wouldn’t express herself. She would just make every excuse up not to go to school.”

Senel had taken steps to reach out and get support for Chelsey, without much success. After speaking again with staff at the school, Senel was referred to M2E, and was keen to see whether it would make a difference. “I discussed with the teachers what the problem was and we found out that she was stressed, there was problems going on with girls and all sorts…It got to a stage where enough was enough.” says Senel.

Chelsey began seeing Roz, our M2E practitioner based in Harrington Hill Primary School, who started working through exercises and showing her different communication and relaxation techniques.

At first, Chelsey found it difficult to open up, but after building trust with Roz, she began to engage with and respond positively to the sessions. “She said at first she couldn’t find the right words, but there’s no right word to express yourself. Gradually she started opening up about how she was feeling…” says Senel.

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“She wouldn’t interact, she wouldn’t talk about her problems, she wouldn’t express herself. Now she’s learnt how to express herself. She’s learnt how to be more self-confident. She’s learnt so much from Roz.”

“Chelsey was very popular in the class so if one girl wasn’t talking to another Chelsey was always in the middle, and that was the problem we had.” she adds.

So, it was also important that Roz spent time with Chelsey and her friends together. “The girls are closer now – they know how to deal with the situation. And Chelsey now, if someone is having a problem with someone else, she walks away. That is a massive step to how she was before.”

Roz also began visiting Chelsey at home, arranging sessions with her and the family. They would play games, watch movies and talk about their feelings, which strengthened relationships within the family and allowed everyone to express themselves freely.

“Roz came to the house a few times which was ideal as she could compare Chelsey to how she was at school. When she came to the house, everyone was getting on with everyone. There was no bickering, no arguments. Chelsey could sit down and express her feelings to Roz about how her day was at school, if they were watching movies, then what movies.”

Senel explains how the home visits were equally helpful, and she plans to continue using some of these strategies herself, like a game that uses skittles as a starter for talking about how you are feeling. ‘It was really good as it made Chelsey open up about stuff as well. Every now and again, we play that game ourselves. Chelsey can express the way she feels and her sister can listen to the way she expresses herself. It’s a fantastic game!”

Senel believes the sessions have had a transformative impact on Chelsey from learning how to express herself, becoming more confident to achieving high grades in her exams. She says: “Chelsey has opened up, she’s a different person. Now she’s learnt how to express herself. She’s learnt how to be more self-confident. She’s learnt so much from Roz. The stuff Roz has shown her, she’s like a completely different child. She got high grades in her exams. The teachers even said like…she’s a completely different child, she’s just not the same. It’s amazing!”

Following the sessions, Senel met with the school to discuss Chelsey’s progress. “I had a meeting with Roz and her two teachers, and even her teacher said, Chelsey has an excellent imagination, she can imagine things and make it come real for herself… Before she used to do tests, she will get just above half. Now, she’s getting full marks.”

Chelsey has now secured a place at a local secondary school and is preparing for a new start this September. But, it was a challenge to secure that place and for a time, Senel was planning to home tutor her while a local school could be found. Speaking about the challenges of securing a space at a local secondary school, Senel explains: “We applied to 3 schools in the area but they all declined.. so she has to home tutored for a while, which is like a downfall to her… In the summer, I booked for us to go away for a week to Sandnes, obviously it’s going to be hard for her but at least she’s had that time away.”

Senel is keen to maintain the good relationship she has built with Chelsey, as well as the family. Reflecting on the programme, Senel raises a point about the need for more long-term support for pupils who have disengaged with school, and how parents and the whole family would benefit also. “You’d be amazed how many parents need support for their kids, and they just don’t get it! A child needs to open up and express themselves.”

She adds: “When you have a keyworker like Roz, you gain their trust, and it’s very hard to leave. I said to Roz already, you’re such a lovely person, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”