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Our Approach

#164 Addressing truancy and supporting behaviour with an Engagement Coach – City Academy Norwich

What did we do?

Support for a Year 9 student who was referred due to their behaviour, truancy and refusal to attend English lessons.

At the end of every session he says ‘Thank you so much’ with such feeling that I know he’s genuinely extremely grateful – he’s never spoken to anyone about much of what he’s shared with me, so it’s a big step forward for him.

Engagement Coach

Summary of impact

The student drastically improved their knowledge of the text we were studying, An Inspector Calls, and now participates and shows off her knowledge in class, earning House Points and getting along much better with her teacher as a result.

Their overall attendance has improved from 74.5% pre-intervention to 83.80% at the close of the data period.

The 1:1 idea developed organically when I began meeting her at the start of the English corridor and slowly getting her into class after doing odd jobs (fetching books/pens) with her; this seemed to warm her up and improve her mood. This evolved into working alone in a separate classroom to get her in a good mood before taking her into the main classroom. Eventually I began to take her for 1:1 sessions for the whole hour. She exhibited no lesson/work avoidance when it was a 1:1 session and enjoyed discussing ideas and concepts with me. She also completed much more written work.

Steps taken

Initially I planned to support a group of students in the same Year 9 English class.

The teacher and I agreed that these students’ work avoidance and behavioural issues stemmed from two main issues: 1) a lack of access to the curriculum due to low reading ages and 2) a lack of routines due to repeated covid disruption.

To address the first issue, I took over the design of differentiated resources for each of my target students.

For the second, I created laminated, dual-coded Strong Start checklists with sticker rewards.

I attended the target students’ English lessons three days a week for most of the academic year and gave in-class support. This amounted to roughly 50 sessions. I then switched to 1:1 subject mentoring with two key students outside of class once a week.

What would we do differently

Deciding to give 1:1 mentoring was crucial; they often said they simply didn’t like being in a class with ‘all those people’.

I was able to build a relationship with the students that allowed me to encourage them to come into lessons and therefore improve attendance in English. I also aimed to improve the students’ behaviour and reduce consequences/behaviour points by instilling routines in them using the strong start checklists.


Costs for the full-time salary of an Engagement Coach (Higher Level TA scale) were covered by the Norwich Opportunity Area for 2021-22.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Improving Attendance through an Engagement Coach - The Hewett Academy


Norwich Opportunity Area Team
City Academy Norwich

299 Bluebell Road