Specialist Education

James' Story

When we first met James*


James first visited Southlands School at eight years of age, with a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. His self-esteem was very low and his confidence had been crushed through the many negative experiences in mainstream schools. He had attended four schools in four years and the outlook for his educational acheivements was not hopeful.


When James come to us


James was initially very insecure and highly anxious. He was of very short stature, blind in one eye with other physical difficulties, and had delayed development. He was a very active boy who struggled to maintain his focus for 45 minutes. Nervousness around other children meant that forming friendships was a huge difficulty. He was also a perfectionist and if he couldn't complete a task, he would cry with frustration and even lash out at staff around him.


James' care


Staff at Southlands School developed trusting relationships with James and encouraged him to partcipate in many varied activities. Staff coached him through developing his skills and confidence in social communication. The staff explained to him what it would be like living with Asperger's Syndrome and taught him coping strategies to enable him to reintergrate into society. This enabled him to re-engage with his education and aspire to future academic goals of GSCE qualifications. James became a passionate reader and as his self-esteem grew, he participated in all aspects of school life.


James took his Key Stage 2 SATs at Southlands and achieved level 4 in English, level 5 in Science and level 5 in Maths. This gave him the confidence to enter the secondary department with a renewed self-belief that he may one day achieve his long-term goal of going to University. James was keen to return to mainstream education in year 8 before choosing his GCSE's in year 9. Continual monitoring procedures ensured that James made good progress that reflected his overall levels. Staff at Southlands School assisted the family in finding exactly the right school. Two out of three were not prepared to take the risk, but one school did.


James began at this school in year 9 and went on to achieve 5 A*s, 4 A's and a B enabling him to go onto sixth form, where he achieved a further 3 A*s in Maths, Further Maths and Physics, and an A in Chemistry.




James had an appetite for learning that became compelling, with him taking a GCSE in Astromony, as well as achieving his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, black belt in Taekwondo and passing his driving test. James has just returned from a gap year, during which he has travelled independently to New Zealand. James was awarded a scholarship to attend his first choice university to study Civil and Environmental Engineering. A someone who has been a real credit to himself and an inspiration to others, he was nominated to carry the Olympic flame in 2012.


What is the future like for James?


James has achieved what he dreamed of doing. To have been a part of helping him achieve this has been an immense privilege for the staff team at Southlands School.


He has gone from being a boy who has no self-belief in his ability to succeed, who's self-esteem had been shattered to one that now has the brightest future ahead of him.


* Name had been changed to protect identity 


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