Garry and James were two young males aged 15 who were attending a small alternative provision. Due to the small size of the school, they tended to mainly only interact with each other when at the school, and attended the same lessons. 

I worked with both of them for the period of 4 months offering boxing coaching, mentoring and engagement with education sessions, which led to mixed results but are worth mentioning nonetheless. 

The goal with these two was to encourage them to engage with their english lessons as it was a subject that both of them were refusing to do. Upon speaking with them, they stated how boring they found it and claimed they could see no use for it in their future.

The dynamic between the pair of them was that Garry was the more academically gifted student, but socially he was not so adept, and he tended to follow James who in his eyes was the ‘cool’ kid to be looked up to. 

During the boxing sessions I gained some key insights into aspects of their character, for Garry he found it difficult to get motivated and get started, where as James would put in good work, but whenever he struggled to do a particular technique or got tired, his mood would deteriorate into self loathing, and he would shut down and communication in any form then became impossible. The boxing sessions provided me opportunities to talk about these different aspects of their characters and to think about them in terms of achieving success.

For the mentoring and education engagement sessions, I got them both to perform mini projects around setting up their own businesses, and the different aspects involved (that related to english) such as creating their website and marketing materials, along with information about themselves.

I noticed almost immediately how well Garry engaged with these sessions, and the quality of work he produced was impressive. James however would do the utmost minimum and seemed to sink into low moods easily when doing these activities. He clearly was behind a number of levels compared to Garry. This would then lead to James becoming disruptive and it would not be long before Garry joined in.

It became apparent to me I would get better results with the two of them by working with them individually. For Garry this worked brilliantly, and he soon started working extremely well and eventually got great results in his end of term exams.

For James I made some progress, but his issues around self esteem and emotional regulation often put a stop to things. I raised this to the school and suggested they put in a referral to CAMHS for more extensive ongoing mental health support around his self esteem and potential medication to help regulate his mood.

The aspect to note with this case study is that with Garry, he had an amazing ability when it came to English, but he would not let this flourish due to wanting to fit in and be accepted by James. It took another older male role model to encourage him to feel proud of and utilize his talents.

Due to Garry gaining sufficient momentum and me identifying James’s needs as being beyond the scope of my intervention, the service was positively discontinued, but with confidence that they were both heading in a better direction for them individually.

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