Jack’s Story

Jack spent a total of two years and six months at Oak Tree School in Cornwall, a co-educational day school for children and young people aged 8 to 16 with special educational needs. Arriving in January 2015, Jack’s placement was part of a longer-term plan for him to be able to return to his parents after having been through the care of his local authority for a number of years with frequent care placements changes.

Prior to enrolling at Oak Tree School

From as early as pre-school age, Jack was referred to support services due to delayed language development, and he had also displayed challenging behaviour, including physical aggression, non-compliance, and running away from school. When he was six years old, it was noted that Jack would require special education needs in direct response to his social, emotional and behavioural development.

After attending several schools in the Cornwall area, it was observed that Jack had a history of volatile relationships with his peers and his behaviour often created significant unrest amongst other students.

Erratic behaviour and a high level of support and encouragement to comply with even the most basic requests meant that Jack developed a reputation as a child who wished to actively resist any form of authority as a means of protecting himself, bearing in mind that he had undergone much upheaval in both his personal and academic life up until this juncture.

As if to highlight this further, Jack’s phone was often seen as very important to him and he became very protective of such possessions – understandable in the context of his disrupted attachments and the difficulty he experienced with not being able to live full-time with his parents.

After years of disrupted education, it was reasonable to suggest that Jack had an intense fear of failure, possibly leading to his resistance to trying new experiences.

At Oak Tree

During his time at Oak Tree from early 2015, Jack experienced significant changes in his home life. We recognised these changes and immediately made arrangements to provide him with a personalised and engaging curriculum, including providing transport so we could manage the home to school transition.

Jack initially found working in a school environment difficult, and in his first few weeks displayed very chaotic behaviours and struggled to engage in any structured activities. We continued to work with Jack, amending his timetable and staff who worked with him until he became more engaged.

Our team identified Jack’s passion for BMX as an opportunity to engage with him and to align his personal interests with his academic development. Our teachers based curriculum-focused English, maths and science lessons around BMX projects, as well as providing a lot of opportunity for outdoor education sessions where he was able to develop his physical and social skills.

While in his final year at school, Jack experienced some personal challenges at home but still successfully completed some functional skills in English and maths.

College and enhanced career prospects

Oak Tree’s unwavering commitment enabled Jack to leave year 11 with qualifications, and following careers advice and guidance set up by the school, he had clear pathways for life after Oak Tree, planned through his enrolment on the Entry Level Pathfinder course at Camborne College.