All About Youth


Case Study: Shane

Case Study: Shane follows his dream to become a tree surgeon after completing SYA Step Forward project and The Prince's Trust programme

Mainstream school isn’t the easiest place to be for everyone – one of those people was 15-year-old Shane from Shrewsbury.

Shane attended junior school and started Year 7 of secondary school but he just “couldn’t cope.” He tried to make friends, tried to stick to the rules but the structure and the expectation to keep up with everyone else was too much.

His mum, Clare, home tutored him for a couple of years – she was determined he would have an education and would do anything to ensure he achieved and was successful.

But life was tough – Shane, who suffers with anxiety, couldn’t cope with the school regime and environment and the home learning environment was also difficult too.

His mum said her son failed to get the support he really needed and deserved during those early school years and she did not know where to turn for help next.

But life changed for the pair when Shane was offered a place on the SYA Step Forward programme – an alternative curriculum programme – based in Shrewsbury.

His Mum, Mrs O said “Shane did go to school but by Year 7 he dropped out – he just couldn’t cope. I home-tutored him for a couple of years – that was hard and then thankfully he was offered a place here at SYA and he’s loved it ever since,” .

“I have no problems trying to get him up in the morning to come here – it quickly became no bother at all and he was learning from the very first day he started here. If SYA didn’t exist I would still be home tutoring him and there’s no way he would have achieved what he has done here. He has built the clay pizza oven with the other young men on the programme and the wooden structure over it as his personal project and has loved it. They’ve done such a great job.”

“He loves wood and metal and hasn’t realised that he has been doing his foundation subjects such as maths as he has gone along.”

Shane now hopes to go to Walford and North Shropshire College to study animal care and landscape gardening. He thinks he wants to be a tree surgeon.

“The team at SYA have brought him on so well – it’s unreal when you think about it – his confidence and everything has improved.

“It’s nice to have a child who wants to get up and get ready for the day ahead rather than making 101 excuses as to why he can’t go,” Mrs O said.

Proudly watching her son make home-made pizzas, cooking them in the oven he and his peers built and serving them to the SYA team, Mrs O said: “If any other parent is experiencing prolonged problems with their child in the traditional education system, I would definitely tell them to contact speak to their current school about SYA.

“I’ve got friends who are going through the same thing with their teenage boys as I did and I know how hard it is. Of course, I would always say try mainstream school but don’t suffer and if it’s not for your child then explore the other programmes such as this one.

“Projects like SYA are saving children from going down the wrong road. To see him starting college and wanting to start college is such an achievement considering where we were two years ago.

“I want to thank the SYA team – not just for the work they have done here with Shane but for their support of the parents too. They have been brilliant with us all.”

Taking a break from serving pizzas, Shane said: “It is good here at SYA and much more fun than school was. In school teachers would tell you what to do and if you couldn’t do it their way there wasn’t any other option. Here they do it a different way.

“We have learned some great skills and done more than I would have done if I stayed in school. I want to go to college and I hope to be a tree surgeon in the future.”

Vanessa Postle, project lead of the Step Forward programme said: “When we first met mum, she was shaking because of her experiences of the education system.

“Shane settled down from day one and we have not experienced any of the concerns which were raised in his Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). Shane is just one example of many who needed an opportunity. He wanted to learn but struggled so much with his anxieties at school. Shane has taken the opportunity at SYA with both hands and should be very proud of himself. We know he has a very exciting future ahead of him with his portfolio of qualifications and his experience from this project.”

“Shane went above and beyond and he has some exceptional skills to offer to a future employer.”

Through the completion of a range of modules – such as Participating in Exercise and Preparing for a Healthy Lifestyle – Shane finishes SYA with a total of 24 credits and his Level 1 Certificate in Personal Development and Employability.

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

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