"SOHK gave me the gift of empathy"              

Jamie started on School of Hard Knocks’ Schools Programme just over a year ago. His behaviour had become unmanageable at school and he constantly found himself in trouble. Jamie was confrontational and defiant when it came to listening to his teachers, feeling as though everyone was against him. Jamie’s mum Clair, was on the phone to the school on a daily basis being told of new problem that Jamie had caused or a new incident that he had been involved in.

“He was just really difficult, he was naughty, there was no focus. Me and the teachers just didn’t know what to do and I honestly felt like the school had me on speed dial – that’s how much I was being called about Jamie.”

After SOHK started working with Jamie’s school, they wrote to Clair telling her about our programme and recommended that Jamie take part. Clair was initially apprehensive about him joining the course as she essentially saw it as Jamie taking a day out of school. Clair had however already tried countless things to help Jamie improve his attitude and behaviour, but nothing had worked. So, she decided to push aside her preconceptions and give SOHK a chance hoping that something might click. Fortunately, it did. 

The shift in Jamie’s behaviour wasn’t immediate, as it rarely ever is, but over time Jamie’s teachers and his mum began to notice the way he interacted with others was changing. The school started to call less often and he seemed to be a lot easier to communicate with. Both Clair and Jamie agreed that the rugby element of the course contributed hugely towards these changes as Jamie developed an understanding of team values in a practical setting. 

“The rugby stuff was massively helpful because it was very much about the team. Jamie would come home and talk about the fact that if one person did something good or bad that the rest of the team would be impacted, and I think that idea of everyone being in it together helped him to empathise with others more.”  

The SOHK classroom sessions also significantly helped Jamie. He learned how to identify, understand and control his emotions so that they did not get the better of him. Jamie now makes valuable contributions to the sessions; by putting into practice the things that he has learned over the past year, he is able to take a step back from situations, put things into perspective and see things from another point of view.

Since starting the programme Jamie’s behaviour and way of thinking has changed dramatically. Jamie’s teachers not only find him much easier to handle, but have noticed that he contributes positively in lessons, asks insightful questions and has more respect for others. Jamie’s mum is also thrilled with the huge change in him and has spoken about how much nicer it is to be around him and how much easier it is to speak to him. She feels far more positive about Jamie’s future and welcomes the fact that she no longer has to speak to the school on a daily basis.

“Just the way he deals with people has become much better. The school aren’t on the phone everyday. He seemed to be easier to communicate with. His behaviour started to change. He was really angry before – like the world was against him.  

A massive milestone in Jamie’s development came when he was out with his friends one weekend; they were about to do something bad that would have definitely got them all into a lot of trouble. In the past Jamie would have acted impulsively and spurred on his friends to make the wrong decision, but this time was different. It was Jamie who stopped the group and said “what would School of Hard Knocks tell us to do?” The fact that Jamie not only stopped himself but also encouraged others to take a moment to think, shows just how far he has come and SOHK can’t wait to see how much further he can go.

“You’ve got to be a very special team to bring out what SOHK has brought out in my son”