Sally, who was five, really struggled to settle into her reception class when she started at school. She was showing really chaotic behaviour, climbing on tables, screaming in class and running around the school. The impact this was having on the rest of her class meant that she was at risk of exclusion. Teachers suspected that she might have ADHD, but as you can’t get a diagnosis until aged 6, they had put in temporary support plans.
Teachers in school had tried to engage with Gina, Sally’s mum, to get support at a specialist support group at a different school. However Gina had refused to accept the referral because of the distance between the two schools and the difficulty in getting all her children to school on time. The school were really struggling to engage with Gina and because of her own anxieties and lack of confidence, she came across quite confrontational when approached by staff.
The school asked me to work with the family to support Sally with her behaviour. I began by talking to Gina and offered to drive Sally to the school in my car to help relieve the pressure of having to get three different buses. She was really grateful for this support and was much happier to work with me. Often when driving Sally to school, she would say that “all I want is to be back in my own class”.
I began to carry out home visits and noticed that there was very little structure or routine at home. The chaotic environment at home meant that all the children were struggling to calm down and settle into classes at school. Gina had had a difficult childhood herself and didn’t have any role models to base her parenting on, so I felt that she would really benefit from attending some parenting courses to help build her confidence. She was nervous about attending the Parent Empowerment Course to begin with, so I offered to join her at the first session. She really enjoyed the class and found it so helpful that she volunteered to attend the whole 12 week course.
Back at home we set about establishing schedules, such as morning, after-school and bedtimes routines. Introducing new routines has been a really positive step for the whole family, all the children now get to school on time, in their uniform and are much calmer when they get to class. Becky, the oldest child, who had just been getting by is now thriving. She is reading well above her age and is proving to be a really gifted pupil.
Sally attended the support group at the other school up until the May half term at which point I helped to gradually introduce her back into her class. She has made really great progress and passed her phonics test as well as improving her reading, writing and maths skills. As had been suspected, Sally has been diagnosed with ADHD and there is a plan in place to make sure that she receives the support she needs.
Gina now plays a really active part in the Parents Association, helping to set up cake sales and playing a big part in the summer fete working group. Sally loves seeing her mum around the school, working closely with other parents and school teachers. This really encourages Sally to work hard at school and she knows that she can discuss any worries she has with her mum.
I am continuing to work with Gina and Sally for the moment, just to make sure that the progress is maintained in the new school year, but we are all confident that they will have a much brighter future.
*The names in this case study have been changed