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Esland Group

Re-engaging with education - Daniel's story

Complex needs  

Daniel* came to us when his previous foster carers felt they could no longer meet his needs and provide the best possible care for him.  

He has complex social, emotional, mental health and care needs, including severe anxiety and panic symptoms, insomnia, school phobia, social phobia, and sensory processing difficulties.  

When we first met Daniel, he was considered a self-harm risk as he had self-inflicted marks on his legs. He spent extended periods in his room and, up to that point, had disengaged entirely from education for several years.  

The start of an educational journey 

We enrolled Daniel into Esland Daven school and designed a highly bespoke programme for him. 

Given his severe social anxiety, the school and his care team arranged for him to start learning from home. 

At first, Daniel found it difficult to even approach his learning space in the home, which meant he couldn’t participate in any of his lessons.  

So, we made some changes to the environment to ensure it was quiet, spacious, and free from other house members.  

Daniel helped design his home classroom environment so that he could feel a sense of control and ownership. This enabled him to start attending sessions and gain more focus. 

Stability and structure  

From there, we developed routines and set expectations for Daniel to help reduce his anxiety levels. This stability helped him start to enjoy learning again and begin to believe in his abilities.  

With our therapeutic input, Daniel felt encouraged to have a go. We set him learning challenges like gardening projects to build his confidence and deepen his trust and relationships with us.  

All these experiences helped work towards introducing Daniel to his SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) tutor.  

His SEND tutor started teaching Daniel core subjects like maths and English. She completed his baseline assessment and set achievable but aspirational targets.  

Daniel’s tutoring initially took place 3 days a week, building up to 2-hour sessions. This increased over time and extended into the summer holidays as a summer school. 

Finding his voice  

We worked with Daniel’s tutor to develop a Learning Through Care plan to help enrich his learning experiences outside of his education plan, and we provided therapeutically supported provisions like art therapy in the home.  

Getting involved in creative arts has helped Daniel develop the skills to self-regulate his emotions and experience a better sense of well-being. 

Daniel’s learning plan was co-produced with his input, and the education and care team around him ensured that his voice was heard at every stage.  

For example, towards the end of the summer term, Daniel asked for science to be included in his plan, which has now been a permanent feature every week. 

We hold regular meetings with the local authority to update them on his progress. And the school will lead an Education Health Care Needs Assessment for Daniel to ensure he has the support he needs to thrive post-16. 

A complete turnaround  

The change in Daniel is incredible. He has a 100% attendance record with his tutor, which is an amazing achievement considering he was previously severely absent from school.  

He’s increased his resilience to challenges and now explores his community instead of staying in his room. From walks to the local shops to park trips and holidays, he’s developed the self-confidence to get out and explore his surroundings.  

He’s also vocal about his views and goals for the future and has made it clear within education and home meetings that he wants to achieve qualifications and continue learning.  

The therapeutically informed learning he’s received so far has helped Daniel adopt a healthier lifestyle, and he’s now more adept at regulating his emotions and managing change.  

He’s also been awarded student of the week twice, which is a testament to how far Daniel’s come on his journey with us.  

Looking to the future  

Daniel is now focusing on his Functional Skills qualification in maths and English to progress to a post-16 setting, and he’s continuing to build his social confidence and communication skills. 

Ultimately, Daniel wants to secure a post-16 educational placement so that he can confidently step into his adult years with some firm foundations beneath him.  

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