Luke Francis: Combining a love for sport with improvement in maths

Luke Francis started his deployment with Evolve in April 2014 and has experience of working in several schools around the West Midlands. Here is the story of Mr Francis and the children he supports…
My favourite part about the role of a Health Mentor is working with the children and seeing them grow in confidence and ability, knowing that I have a direct influence on their growth – it’s a sense of pride and achievement. You are able to build a bond with some children that not many others in the school are able to do and that makes Health Mentors so valuable to a school.
I was working with a child in a Birmingham school last year and this child was seen by every other teacher as a nuisance; a troublemaker; basically a failure academically. What I saw was one of the most talented children I had the pleasure of working with. He was leaps and bounds above anybody in his year when it came to every single sport. Not only that but he could have been in the top ten for the whole school in pretty much every sport and he was only in Year 4.
We made an agreement that if he focused in other subjects we would spend more time working on his extra-curricular activities such as football, gymnastics and dance. His attitude changed dramatically and, although he did still get into the odd altercation with children, he became more polite and his level of work improved dramatically, especially in maths. I worked with him in maths and I realised his attitude towards the subject had changed when he said to me “this is fun maths”. That was because he started to realise he could do it and was being challenged. As a result of this, he was moved up to the top set. Several teachers commented on how much he had changed for the better. He is now part of a gymnastics and football club outside of school after I spoke to his Mum and encouraged her to take him to them.
With every child that I meet in school, I want to make a positive difference in their life. If a child wants to come to school then I’m happy. When I was growing up I never wanted to go to school. It’s not that I disliked school, I would just rather be at home playing on my console. But if you make a school a place of enjoyment, alongside learning, you build the perfect atmosphere for children to grow in every single way – not just academically but socially and mentally. The main goal is that every child is happy. anything more that comes with it (and a lot more does come) is a bonus.