Threatened Norwich Future project: Parents have their say

Michelle Lewis said that Future Education had turned her 15-year-old son Stephan's life around.

He had been in and out of the school system until he was 14, and was getting into trouble.

'Before he came here he would stay out and I would never see him. He was drinking, smoking and being a horrible child. He has come here and he doesn't leave the house any more,' she said.

'He [now] actually enjoys coming to school. He won't miss a day. Before he wouldn't go to school and he would fight with the teachers. He was abusive. It was a case of being pushed from pillar to post.

'There wasn't the support to deal with him. They would rather allow him to go out of school than to deal with him.

'He has told me that he won't go to another school. He has only got a year left. I never thought he would have GCSEs and yet he has started his GCSEs.

'It is down to the staff. He loves it here and now they might not be here. It is something I never thought he would have.'

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Marianne Kane's 15-year-old son Jake started playing up because his dyslexia was not diagnosed.

'He was known as a trouble-maker', she said. 'He was kicked out of school and they put him somewhere else.

'He just did not want to know about school any more. He didn't get the help that he should have been getting. Everyone gave up as soon as the going got tough with him.'

After going to a number of high schools, he eventually ended up at Future Education, where he has just finished Year 10 and is halfway through GCSEs.

'This place listens to him. It is more of a personal touch and a family environment rather than a school,' she said. 'I believe that if we put Jake somewhere else, we may just as well forget about the last bit of his education. Here it is not just the educational side of it. It is the emotional support. They talk to him in the right way.

'Since he came here his behaviour at home has settled down a bit more,' she said.

'The last place he went to they just thought he was never going to get anywhere and he was one of those kids that will just get no education.

'If he was to stay here and continue with the progress he is making, he could leave here with more adequate qualifications and go on with the next level of higher education.

'Emotionally for him it is going to be devastating. I know how he deals with new situations. It takes him a hell of a time to feel comfortable around new people.

'At this stage he shouldn't be having to cope with new situations.'

Michael Hannant and Lisa Thorn said that their 15-year-old daughter Gemma's life had been transformed by Future Education.

Gemma, pictured left, had been in mainstream school, but had problems with bullying and medical problems. Ms Thorn said: 'She didn't adapt to mainstream school and with everything else that was going on the school didn't understand anything with regards to Gemma.

'They spent most of the time putting her in the inclusion unit and excluding her from school, which didn't solve the problem.'

She eventually went to the pupil referral unit.

'She has come here and she is now really confident. She looks confident. She has joined after school clubs. She has achieved so much here. She will always turn up everyday.

'It is unbelievable what she is achieving. She comes home and says how well she gets on with staff here. At mainstream school there are so many of them, they are brushed aside.'

She said that Future Education had even organised a work placement and Gemma wanted to do childcare at college.

Gemma says: 'It is amazing. It has changed my life really. My attendance at my other school was rubbish. Since I've come here, I've woken up every morning and I get here on time. Everyone loves coming here.'

'I've been having trouble lately and they've [Future Education] helped me through it. If I'm crying in the morning I can speak to someone. They will help me sort it out.'

Carolyn Lie, said her 15-year-old son Connor had always had anger issues, especially at school.

She said that he could not cope with large groups.

He was eventually excluded from CNS and ended up at Future Education.

'He has been here nearly a year and the small groups have helped him. He is looking ahead himself and thinking about college. With the help and support here he will get into college.' She said that she did not think he would be able to take his exams as it would take time for him to cope with the move.

'He is sorted here and he is achieving here. He has the right to carry on achieving.

'He felt he had been failed by the education system until he came here. This just feels like another slap in the face.'

Lisa Badham said that her 15-year-old Tom Ingleton had been excluded from two schools and ended up at the pupil referral unit.

He was eventually diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

'He is very bright. He loves school now and is really distraught about the possibility that he won't come here any more. He has already missed out on so much school. He is really settled here and he enjoys coming to school.'

Keiron Norton, 15, pictured, was excluded from Sprowston High School.

He said he struggled with school work.

'Because I couldn't do the work I started annoying other people and then they would get annoyed with me', he said.

'I would keep getting sent out. That is why they chucked me out. I was also rude to the headteacher, so they chucked me out.

'They are more helpful here. If you are getting agitated with the work you can have five minutes out.

'When I have calmed down, I can go back in the lesson and try the work again.'

Keiron said that he wanted to be a mechanic or welder and fabricator: 'I would like to go to college and do mechanics or welding.'