Winner: Kirsten Beattie

 Kirsten Beattie

Kirsten harboured ambitions of working in childcare, but suffered with anxiety and low self-esteem. She became socially isolated because of it, avoided difficult situations and let her school attendance drop to 18 per cent. Her academic attainment fell as a result, inflaming her anxiety and causing problems at home.

Eventually, Kirsten severed relations with her friends and simply stayed at home.

A referral to xl helped Kirsten overcome her problems and enabled her to focus on her future. Achieving a 100 per cent attendance record, Kirsten made friends and developed new skills that were instrumental in building her confidence.

Feeling emotionally happier, Kirsten secured an 18-week placement as a classroom assistant at a special needs school. The feedback she received was exceptional.

She completed her xl Level 2 Award, is now studying childcare at college and has been offered an ongoing placement at the special needs school with a view to permanent employment.

Finalist: Taylor Reid

Taylor Reid

Mainstream education didn’t agree with Taylor. She wanted a career in childcare but suffered with ADHD and anger issues that saw her suspended from school several times.

Taylor was referred to the xl programme where she quickly realised that her behaviour wasn’t just holding her back but everyone else on the course. It prompted her to learn anger management techniques and saw her become more proactive and less antagonistic.

She began working with others, opened up to her tutors and learned life skills that included money management, career planning and community participation. 

By the end of the programme, Taylor’s anger was under control. She had a solid new group of friends, was significantly more confident and had successfully attained her xl Level 2 Award, which helped her secure a place at college.

She is now studying Health and Social Care at college and is working her way to achieving her goals.

Finalist: Mark Peden

Mark[Grainne Rooney collected Mark's certificate on his behalf]

Mark suffers with severe migraine headaches, and back problems. His educational progress was hindered by severe learning difficulties, which made school life tough.

Collectively it was too much. Mark’s frustrations became visible with him becoming disruptive and regularly playing truant.

A referral to the xl programme was Mark’s chance to achieve in a different learning environment. In contrast to his behaviour at school, Mark showed commitment and a willingness to learn. He rose to the challenge of completing courses selected for him by his SENCO worker, improving his literacy, numeracy and confidence in the process.

Mark’s view on learning has completely changed, and has earned him the respect of many of his teachers.

Mark now firmly believes in himself and that, if he works hard, he can achieve in life.

Since leaving xl, Mark has started his Level 2 in Joinery and Carpentry and hopes to secure a diploma and NVQ.