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Cedar House School

Isabella's Story

“Isabella eventually left Cedar House School as a confident young woman who was able to start working towards her potential.”

30 April 2021

Isabella's Story

Isabella was a talented and intelligent girl who had always been a high achiever in her mainstream setting. She was predicted to do well with her GCSEs and outside of the classroom was representing her county at swimming. However, Isabella began to use non-violent resistance at home and school, resulting in complete school refusal. Her home life was also severely negatively impacted, including Isabella being threatening towards her mother.


Initially, Isabella joined Cedar House School as a day pupil but quickly it became apparent that a residential placement would be required to better support her needs.  Isabella’s parents championed this with their local authority until the decision was made that would allow Isabella to both live and learn at the school for 38 weeks of the year.

The school deployed a range of interventions to support Isabella, who on arrival was presenting as an elected mute.  An internal team around the child (ITAC) was formed so that her educational, personal, social and therapeutic needs could be considered as one and tactics and strategies of support could be created to seamlessly support her throughout all aspect of her time at the school.  Isabella was initially  extremely resistant to this but within weeks had settled; with her anxiety levels reduced significantly she formed excellent relationships with certain staff and pupils.  Everyone realised that for Isabella it was all about building up strong levels of trust and meaningful relationships.

However, as school life improved her home life broke down further.  She was simply a different person when she returned home and the decision was made that she would enter foster care within close proximity to the school.

School staff provided a range of therapeutic interventions alongside their Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) approach to further enhance the support offered to Isabella.  They were able to continually increase their understanding of what her triggers were, how anxiety was increased and the solutions that would enable her to stay calm.  This intervention once again resulted in significant development for Isabella.  Her mental health  improved and her levels of  anxiety reduced.  The support staff offered enabled her to learn how to express her feelings and start to manage her emotions better.  These strategies were also provided to her parents, so that they could apply these when Isabella visited home.


Isabella eventually left Cedar House School as a confident young woman who was able to start working towards her potential. She achieved GCSE Grade 5 pass in statistics; three GCSE Grade 4 passes (English, maths and art); Grade 3 pass (biology); and two City & Guilds Level 1 in construction and land-based studies.  These results enabled her to gain a place on a Animal Care Level 2 course at a nearby college

Most importantly  though her parents had the daughter they knew back in their life and Isabella was able to return to the family home.  They knew they had the Cedar House School to thank and sent a final message to all staff stating,

As we look to the future now and Isabella starting Craven College, she is only able to do so in a large part because of the work undertaken with Isabella by you. Thank you for your work in enabling Isabella to get her life back on track and helping her to look ahead to a much brighter future.”

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