Phoenix Rising 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 Phoenix 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.’

Phoenix’s parents first contacted Mentor Education in March 2019 with an urgent request for help. Currently in his second year of A-Levels (studying Economics, Philosophy and Psychology), Phoenix 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 Phoenix was at one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, his clear intellectual aptitude was not translating into scholastic success; and, worryingly, he had been 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 – Phoenix was clearly 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 tutees’ emotional wellbeing and confidence as well as nurturing intellectual skills. However, time was of the essence, as Phoenix’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 Phoenix’s needs.

First steps: looking beyond the academic issues to root causes

Mentor Education pride themselves on constructing sophisticated, multi-layered strategies for our tutees. Our evaluations are not simply box-ticking exercises, but crucial in terms of devising a really well-rounded work plan. It is not enough to simply strive for outstanding academic results: sometimes we need to delve deeper to find out what really makes a student tick in order to help them realise their full potential. Phoenix’s assessment was no exception – and, as such, we wanted to have in-depth conversations with Phoenix, his parents, and several of our best tutors.

Our exploration encompassed not only what Phoenix 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 Phoenix’s aspirations and dreams?

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

The challenge

We were therefore faced with an important challenge. In a short space of time, we needed to help Phoenix rebuild his sense of self whilst tackling those academic areas that were proving an issue. We also had to compensate for the loss of a school environment; a scenario that, in some senses, was helpful, as the busy and demanding atmosphere of a prestigious boarding school was not best for Phoenix in this fragile state, but which also presented its own challenges (such as a potential lack of structure). As Edward discovered after multiple conversations with Phoenix’s father, it was important to get the balance right: ‘We knew that Phoenix needed structure and monitoring. As Phoenix was living with his father since his expulsion, it meant close co-working between all stakeholders involved: parents, tutors and myself. This co-working was also paramount to effective implementation of the strategy as we mapped out a route and key deliverables for all involved.’

With this in mind, Edward created a detailed blueprint for the student which encompassed daily tuition on a one-to-one basis with three separate tutors for each subject, closely co-ordinated with his parents to ensure maximum collaborative effort. This tailored approach ensured that Phoenix 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 Phoenix to rise

It may be surprising to hear that our first priority wasn’t pushing Phoenix 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. After a short initial period, our tutors noticed that Phoenix displayed a real lack of aspiration and confidence: all of which were causing him to act out. Phoenix’s father, with whom he was currently living, accepted our recommendations, and the supportive strategy we proposed to help remedy this issue.

The changes were dramatic. With everyone working closely to nurture Phoenix’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, Phoenix achieved CCD in his A-Levels: a huge leap. The enhanced grades symbolise not only Phoenix’s tremendous academic progress but also his newfound 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 Phoenix

Not content to rest on his laurels, Phoenix 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 particular areas of focus, and has discovered a brand-new passion: maths! With this in mind, Phoenix 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!

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