Before Nottingham Forest Community Trust were first introduced to the year 2 class at Sir Donald Bailey Primary School, our coach Sarah Richardson was informed about a young girl who was a ‘selected mute’. The pupil was very hesitant around most people but would communicate in small doses by whispering words to her class teacher.

Sarah was determined to try and break down some of these barriers and support the student with her confidence issues in any way that she could. “I was adamant in building a strong rapport with the pupil to help support her confidence and try to make her feel as comfortable as possible when around me”.

Sarah started by simply making the effort to greet her, briefly speak and smile at her at any given situation to build up some trust. After doing this for some time, Sarah decided that she wanted to try and go a step further and invited her to some reading sessions in the morning. Her school teachers had some doubts about how comfortable she would feel doing this, but Sarah insisted that she at least wanted to give the pupil the opportunity. To begin with she decided to come to the sessions but as expected, chose a book she was interested in and sat reading the book to herself. Sarah then started to establish some of the things she liked and at the end of the sessions would make the effort to talk to her about them, make jokes and build some rapport with the student.


During the next few weeks, the pupil became more and more comfortable around Sarah and she would now sit alongside her whispering the book and discussing it with her afterwards! It was an incredible difference and noticeable changes in her personality were beginning to show outside of these reading sessions. The quiet girl in the corner who had no confidence was now eager to demonstrate in front of her class, answer questions and join in with all the activities in Sarah’s lessons! Both the teachers and students were stunned by the progress of the young girl.

Sarah is so proud of her pupil and her confidence as well their relationship continues to grow day by day.