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Esland Group

Achieving a goal - Conor's story

Excluded from school

Conor started in year 11 at Esland Daven School in September 2023. Initially, we organised a home tutor for him because he refused to learn in traditional classroom environment. Conor has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and often fixates on one thing at a time in passionate detail. The areas he focuses his attention on most are football, cooking, and playing with Lego.

Conor’s previous schools found it difficult to manage his behaviour, which led to several exclusions. When he started with us, he had very low expectations and felt that we were just another placement that would give up on him.  

A different approach

With Conor’s past experiences in mind, his tutor, Rob, took a different approach to his lessons. Instead of delving straight into formal learning, he focused on one of Conor’s passions, football. He’d challenge him to a game in the garden to help build a positive rapport, and this eventually led to Conor engaging in small amounts of work.

As Conor began to participate more fully in lessons with Rob, we agreed to move his learning on-site at the school. At first, Conor found this extremely challenging and would often become aggressive, refuse to attend his lessons, and damage school property.

Dedicated support

We sat down with Conor to discuss his needs and where he felt he required more support. As a result, we amended his timetable to include regular movement and change of face breaks. We also put more emphasis on target subjects that would help Conor meet his goals.

From a therapeutic perspective, we organised SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) interventions so that he could learn to manage his anxiety and aggression more effectively. We found that giving him regular opportunities to play with Lego helped him cope with his emotions and, crucially, ask for help if he was struggling with something.

Exciting opportunities

With all this support in place, Conor began to positively engage with his maths, English, cooking, and PE lessons, as well as his SEMH interventions. However, there was one activity that he continued to excel in, and that was football.

His tutor, Rob, worked with Conor’s parents to push for a place at the Stoke-on-Trent football academy. Conor had to attend several days of trials and interviews, which was extremely nerve-wracking for him, but with the support of Rob and his family, Conor was offered a place. In fact, he was also offered a place at Newcastle-Under-Lyme, but he decided to choose Stoke.

We continue to support Conor’s journey and regularly watch his football matches alongside his dedicated army of friends and family. Conor will soon sit his entry-level maths and English exams, and he’s working towards a cooking qualification. If that wasn’t enough, he has a part-time job as a porter in a restaurant kitchen.

We’re so proud of Conor’s journey and are thrilled to have contributed to his educational development.


“Connor is a perfect example of the Daven motto: Building our future. He represents how a community can come together to truly make a difference and improve a young person’s life. He’s helped bring his peers closer together through his abilities and we’re delighted and incredibly proud that he’s been able to be make such a valuable contribution to Esland Daven School.”

A quote from Kelly Pope, Headteacher at Esland Daven School

*We have changed the name to protect the young person’s identity.