Ollie’s Story From U Grades to University, student turns it all around with self-belief and enthusiasm

“We were in a desperate situation. Our son was about to be expelled from school and had failed all his exams. He was in his final year of A Levels and time was running out. We didn’t know what to do – until Mentor Education stepped in and helped Ollie turn it all around. It’s not only about the academic improvements, though he is doing extremely well, but his new-found confidence and self-belief. That’s been priceless to us.

Ollie’s parents first contacted Mentor Education in March 2019 with an urgent request for help. Then in his second year of A Levels in Economics, Philosophy and Psychology, Ollie was in a dire situation. Having received U grades across the board in his mock exams, he was now facing expulsion due to behavioural issues. Though he was at one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, his intellectual ability was not translating into scholastic success. Worryingly, he was also exhibiting troublesome tendencies at school, finding it hard to socialise and ‘acting out’ in ways that had led to his exclusion.

Academic ability was not the issue here. Ollie was a bright, capable student, but something was going very wrong. His parents knew there were deeper issues that required exploration, and that they would need to enlist the help of tutors who were qualified to support their son’s emotional wellbeing and confidence as well as nurturing his intellectual skills. However, time was of the essence, as Ollie’s A Level exams were just a few months away.

This was a situation that required not only intensive and careful strategic planning, but also extreme sensitivity. Mentor Education arranged for our client manager, Edward, to meet with the family and devise a bespoke plan tailored to Ollie’s needs.

First steps: looking beyond the academic issues to root causes

At Mentor, we pride ourselves on constructing sophisticated, multi-layered strategies for the young people that we tutor. Our evaluations are not simply box-ticking exercises, but crucial in terms of devising a well-rounded work plan. It is not enough simply to strive for outstanding academic results. Sometimes we need to delve deeper to find out what makes a student tick in order to help them realise their full potential. Ollie’s assessment was no exception, so we wanted to have in-depth conversations with Ollie, his parents, and several of our best tutors.

Our exploration encompassed not only what Ollie might need in practical terms – interrogating his academic strengths and weaknesses, and where else we could offer support – but also another, valuable question: what were his aspirations and dreams?

The latter question proved crucial, because it seemed that Ollie had lost sight of his own goals. He didn’t have the confidence to visualise a path for himself, and so his academic studies had lost all meaning.

The challenge

We faced an important challenge. In a short space of time, we needed to help Ollie rebuild his sense of self whilst tackling the academic areas that were proving an issue. We also had to compensate for the loss of a school environment and a potential lack of structure. As Edward discovered after conversations with Ollie’s father, it was important to get the balance right. Edward said: “We knew that Ollie needed structure and monitoring. As Ollie had been living with his father since his expulsion, it meant close co-working between all stakeholders: parents, tutors and myself. This co-working was vital to enable us to map out a route and a strategy for helping Ollie.”

With this in mind, Edward created a detailed blueprint for Ollie which encompassed daily tuition on a one-to-one basis with separate tutors for each subject, closely co-ordinated with his parents to ensure maximum collaborative effort. This tailored approach meant that Ollie was benefiting from a social mix and a high level of support to help boost his confidence, and, at the same time, a work plan that would inspire him and fill his studies with new meaning.

Helping Ollie to find new purpose

It may be surprising to hear that our first priority wasn’t pushing Ollie academically – despite the fact that he had received U grades in his mock examinations. Instead, we wanted to focus on why he was struggling academically. Our tutors noticed that Ollie displayed a lack of aspiration and confidence, which was causing him to act out. Ollie’s father accepted our recommendations and the supportive strategy we proposed to help remedy this issue.

The changes were dramatic. Everyone worked closely to nurture Ollie’s confidence, help him find a new path that genuinely interested and excited him, and inject a new sense of purpose into his studies. A positive synergy was established in all aspects of his life: from time management to communication as a family, and even a new enthusiasm for extracurricular father-and-son bonding activities. Exceptional results followed. In just a few short months of working with us, Ollie achieved CCD in his A Levels: a huge leap. The enhanced grades symbolise not only Ollie’s tremendous academic progress but also his new-found positive outlook on life – and the way he has embraced his studies and the future opportunities these represent since beginning tuition with Mentor Education.

A bright future for Ollie

Ollie is now looking ahead to a brighter future. He still works closely with Mentor Education, but he has gained the agency to make his own decisions about his particular areas of focus, and has discovered a brand-new passion – maths! With this in mind, Ollie and his Mentor Education team are working towards improving his grades further and winning a coveted place to study Mathematics at a Russell Group university. His parents are thrilled – as are we.

Ollie shows that anything is possible with self-belief and enthusiasm. We couldn’t be prouder of him and the tutors who have helped him rediscover his path. Sincerest congratulations to everyone who has been involved in this remarkable story.