DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
This is the success story of an immigrant student who at 15 attended the 8th year in the schools cluster João Roiz, Castelo Branco, Portugal. He tended to miss classes, was not adjusted to the school environment and his family was going through a difficult poverty period. Through a counselling and support program at school the student found a successful way to integrate into the new school.
The student had lived in Germany from birth up to the age of 11, though his family was of Portuguese extract. When he moved back to Portugal, he lived with his mother and two brothers. His relationship to his mother was good, he showed a protective attitude towards his younger brother and little dialogue with an older brother. His parents are currently separated, due to several hardships: the family had a small business in Germany, which began to go wrong,so his father started to drink, and his mother was unable to manage business alone. Still in Germany she denounced her husband for aggression and for not given any support to the family. The student's father was forced to do a detox porgram and to be accompanied by a psychologist in Germany, even though he has continued not to contribute economically to the children’s education.The mother is unemployed, receiving unemployment benefit. In sum, through economic hardship, the mother has to provide education and food for her three children.
Through school counselling it was possible to diagnose which were the main problems that were affecting this particular student. he had difficulty in expressing affection and it was found out that he had suffered psychological bullying at the German school. This was cause enough for the student’s low self-esteem and lack of confidence, besides never having been positively stimulated by his father.
The student cumulatively felt difficulties in integrating into the Portuguese education system as it is widely different from the German education system and uses very diverse teaching and learning practices. The student did not speak the Portuguese language at the required level and had difficulties in following all the classes in Portuguese. He tended not to attend classes because of this. Learning the Portuguese language took time, although he currently already speaks Portuguese, and has a satisfactory attendance level.
The student was included in a guidance and counseling program in order to overcom his anxiety,insecurity and temperamental instability problems. This program included a close rapport with the student’s mother. The interaction between the head teacher and the student´s mother allowed the school to diagnose the family’s needs and difficult social and economic situation. A support program was established, with the articulation between technicians from several institutions, which created better living conditions for this student. Amongst these were actions targeted to finding employment for the mother and assisting the family economically as through a basket of food they received at Easte, from the Amato Lusitano association (charity). As a consequence of these actions, a greater stability in the family was noticed. The student is integrated at school, and despite still having some problems, he has managed to overcome them, he has improved his attitudes and his school performance.
The success of this story is based on a support program articulated between the school and several actors in and out of school: the Victim Support Service ( a police department), which signaled the family and supported the family against violence; the Caritas charity, which gave support in paying monthly water and electricity bills and gave monetary assistance on the purchase of the glasses that the student needed; Two psychologists at the Amato Lusitano Association, who provided psychological support for the mother and student.; a Professional Association which promoted the employability of the mother.
There was an articulation among all these actors action, which was initiated by the head teacher. At school there was counseling of the student.
This story illustrates the need to give an appropriate response to a situation of emotional and economic deprivation of a particular student by engaging various actors that are linked to the school environment but outside it. In order to solve this student’s situation, a series of social support mechanisms had to be called upon, such as social support, social assistance and employability of the mother. Only in this way was it possible to overcome the extreme economic hardship of this family that was having a negative impact on the student. Only by reintegrating the mother into working life and working on the identification of the student’s shortcomings, feelings and past experiences was it possible to reintegrate the student.