S is Wings Nottingham’s newly elected Head Girl – she’s been at the school for just over a year and is doing extremely well, working hard towards her GCSEs, in which she’s predicted to shine.
In her own words, S is “quite new” to care. She is frank about her issues with mental health which meant she wasn’t able to stay at home. Her experience of care homes left her feeling “not safe” before she had a positive experience of foster care.
However, her journey to Wings took in several care homes and several foster families, as well as three psychiatric hospitals in eight months – in total seven moves in a year. While S is stoic about the turmoil; “you just get used to it!” she says, it is easy to see that moving so much could not possibly be having a positive effect on her mental health.
S is extremely bright, articulate and beautifully mannered. Her foster carer had previously cared for another child with similar needs – the need for support whilst receiving a concentrated education. S explains: “She told me about another child went into therapeutic unit and I thought that would be a good place to help with my issues but then get a concentrated schooling at the same time. Classes in mainstream schools are quite big so you don’t get the help you need. I’m trying to get good grades because I want to be a doctor.”
Staff from Wings Nottingham visited S to chat about the school, and then S visited for herself. Whilst there was the inevitable settling in period in a different environment, S is thriving.
She stood for Head Girl as one of three candidates. She had to give a speech and staff and students voted. S takes her duties as head girl seriously – she supports students to raise opinions if they have issues to raise and she attends meetings with the Principal as well as health and safety meetings.
Her academic work is another source of pride – S had missed a whole year of schooling but is predicted to achieve minimum B-grades for all exams.
In terms of her mental health, S says: “I’m supported to see my psychiatrist but I don’t need therapy at the moment. The staff here are really supportive and in educational terms the small class sizes are perfect for me. The teachers are right there – they have time to explain things to you. I feel ready to go home and stronger for having been here.”
She has enjoyed the boarding experience, personalising her room, often with treats “purchased” through the points system for achievements. S also has a packed schedule outside of school including voluntary work at a stables, St John’s Ambulance and much more. In her words: “I’m busy every night of the week!”