Holly’s Story

Holly’s Story

Case study from December 10, 2019

Holly was 13 when she was excluded from school. She had violently assaulted a boy in her year. Following her exclusion, Holly came to Arco, an alternative provision school in south-east London. She met with SHS Practitioner Joan, as part of her induction. Holly was under an order with the Youth Offending Team and needed to make regular visits to the local police station. Joan learned that Holly had four siblings, all of them had a different Dad. Holly’s Dad and two of her siblings’ fathers are currently serving prison sentences.

One of Joan’s first priorities was to meet with Holly’s Mum. Engagement and building trust took tenacity and patience. At the offer of support, Mum was initially hostile, aggressive and verbally abusive but Joan persevered, she contacted Mum by phone and popped round continuing to offer support, with calmness and kindness. Holly’s Mum wouldn’t let Joan in the house initially, she was wary and angry. Joan carefully explained her role, explaining she was there to offer support and told Holly’s mum to phone her if she needed anything.

Within a few weeks Holly’s mum called, she needed help with the police and school, both agencies were requesting meetings with her. This was the start of a journey that transformed Mum and Holly. Joan worked with Mum on behaviour, language, attitude, listening and communication skills.

Before Joan’s intervention, Mum was abusive and aggressive to school staff and police, she was unable to listen and respond. This made the situation for Holly considerably worse. Joan accompanied Mum to a number of meetings dealing with Holly’s violent behaviour and her behaviour at school.

With Joan’s help, Mum is now able to communicate calmly. She phones Joan before meetings to check in but no longer requires Joan to attend meetings with her. This change in behaviour has also transferred into home life. Joan and Mum worked on her parenting skills, building in “special time” as part of a daily routine. This involves Mum and Holly having 10 mins each day where Mum simply listens to Holly. This approach has enabled Mum and Holly to have a stronger more positive relationship and the benefits for Holly have had a staggering impact. 

Holly’s back in mainstream school now. It’s a new secondary and she has taken the opportunity to put her life back on track. She’s doing more than okay – she is thriving. A model student, she’s joined the drama club and has been asked to be involved in the school’s student voice group. Holly turned this down but is talking to Joan about how she can work towards this and working to build her confidence. Holly’s extremely remorseful about her violent behaviour. She has witnessed and been involved in violence for as long as she can remember. She has realised this is destructive. There have been no concerns about her behaviour in her new school. All of her teachers are pleased with her progress.

We recently checked in with Holly’s new secondary school her attendance is 100%.




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