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A fourth chance at education – Sam’s story

"They give everyone a second, third, or even a fourth chance. They don't give up on people, even if they have given up on themselves."

Mum and Dad aren’t together anymore. I lived with Dad during the week, and Mum at the weekend but I didn’t feel like I was wanted anywhere. I just hung out with my friends on the streets.

When I started secondary school I really struggled with my learning, especially with things like reading and writing. The classes were too big and I was embarrassed to ask for help – even if I did, the other kids would just bully me. I felt like no-one could help, so I misbehaved.

It was easier not to go to the lessons so I hid in the toilets or just left, then I stopped going to school completely. I just wandered the streets.

I got sent to another school but the same things happened and they moved me again. When they found me a third school to go to, I just refused. In the last three years, my attendance had only been 27% so what was the point? I had given up.

But the new school was different, they knew about STEPs and arranged for me to go three days a week, and I agreed.

I started in April 2022 and by December my attendance was 97% – I had found a place that could teach me in small groups and give me the support I needed.

I’m much happier now, I feel like I have more confidence and I’ve made friends – I want to learn now.

I’ll be taking my English and Maths exams in the summer but I already have a job lined up for when I leave. My Dad says the change in me is ‘remarkable’, I’m happier and my home life is better for the whole family.

Models used and names changed to protect privacy

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Our STEPS to 16 educational support team works with schools and City & Guilds to support students in gaining qualifications in English and Maths and life skills.