All About Youth


Case Study: John

Case study: John goes from refusing to speak or smile to learning entrepreneurial skills at SYA ready for his working life.

Project leaders at Shropshire-based charity SYA said John refused to smile or speak or put his mobile phone away when told when he first arrived at the ‘Step Forward’ alternative curriculum programme.

John, 15, from near Oswestry, had attended three different secondary schools but, by Year 8, it was clear secondary school education was proving too difficult and so Shropshire Council arranged two initial visits to SYA and he before he and his family decided that the ‘Step Forward’ programme was right for him.

John, who is dyslexic and suffers with anxiety, went on to follow the rules, started smiling and laughing with his new friends, who were also on the programme, and learned a variety of skills including vital digital skills, careers planning and preparing for life skills. He also ran a successful car washing programme as part of his personal project for the Princes Trust programme.

His mum, was served pizza made by her son from the clay oven which he helped to build and she said, ‘John is much calmer at home since he started coming to SYA, two years ago, and he likes coming here which is important. He used to get angry and take it out on furniture and he was frustrated because he couldn’t do the work as well as others. He felt like people were looking at him because he would react when he couldn’t do the work. SYA has been so supportive of John and of parents too.’

John added, ‘It’s been hard with everything which happened at school but it got easier as soon as I came to SYA. I found it a lot easier to talk to people in the end here and have made friendships here too. My favourite parts have been the car washing, going out for days, cooking and building the pizza oven.’

Vanessa Postle, Project Leader, said, ‘I have to thank John and his peers for their hard work on the programme. When we first met with these young people, they were reluctant as they thought it was going to be the same as school. They joined the programme with anxieties and have totally embraced every opportunity, coming together as a team. They have developed problem solving skills, their communication skills and learned the importance of building relationships with others. They have been so resilient and determined and it has been a pleasure to watch.’

The ‘Step Forward’ programme sees the youngsters attend Tuesdays to Fridays from 9.30am to 2.30pm. Each academic year there are six places available for young people in school years 10, 11 and 12.

Anybody interested in finding out more about the project should email

Anybody who is interested in offering any opportunities to the youngsters on the programme such as practical skill demonstrations or wants to fundraise for the SYA charity or nominate the charity as their corporate charity of the year then email

To find out more

Call us: 01743 730005

Privacy Policy