Girl with headphones

The person pictured is not associated with this case study.

Nina, 16, had become depressed and wasn’t coping with school in or out of lessons: “I couldn’t concentrate in lessons, school doesn’t suit me. I was distracted, and I’d rather get detention than do the work because I just couldn’t concentrate, I didn’t want to do anything… It was a group of girls I was hanging around with, they weren’t very nice. And I didn’t want to be not very nice …”. 

Eventually things got so bad that her parents took the decision to take her out of school and begin home educating her. According to Nina’s father: “It got to the stage where the school was having to send her home because she was so upset.”

Nina’s father approached the home education authority and discussed Nina’s interest in music – she had been playing guitar for around 10 months at the time (teaching herself by finding songs she liked on YouTube). They referred her to the Key Changes programme.

After just four months things began to change. A combination of being home educated, and being supported by her music mentor, Malaki, meant that Nina’s wellbeing, ability to learn, attitude and aspirations all improved: “My concentration skills are better now, and I’m much happier,” says Nina. “I really enjoy it. I started a few months ago, and I go to the mentor’s studio around once a month, although now I’m doing my Silver Arts Award project it’s more often.”

Nina’s father says: “Her confidence has really transformed and she’s grown. She has self-belief now, she’s more interested in her schooling. This has been great. Malaki’s given her pointers, helped her loads. She gets to do what she wants to do creatively, as well as learning the theory side – it works for Nina. She seems to take his ideas on board and she didn’t do that at school, not teachers ideas or ours as parents!”

Nina says: “He helps me write songs, I’ve got some chords but I can never find words and the words that come out are really bad, but … he’s helped my confidence a lot. At (a performance in a pub), I was really shaky when performing, but since I’ve been at [the music leader]’s it’s opened me up and helped me out a lot.”

Nina has now applied to a number of further education colleges to continue her studies and to specialise in music.