Some of the potentially most challenging youngsters Fishing for Schools (F4S) instructors work with are those from Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

The Department for Education describes PRUs as places where “children who aren’t able to attend school and may not otherwise receive suitable education” go to school. This is often because they have been permanently excluded for behavioural issues.

Our South West team work with a number of local PRUs and organiser Rob Doyle says working with kids who are in the “last chance saloon” can be very satisfying.

“These youngsters are in danger of being ostracised from society at a very young age and little is expected of them,” said Rob. “We go in with the intention of educating them – we want them to realise that it can be worthwhile to work towards something.

“Last year one of the lads we were working with from one PRU was able to go back into mainstream education, partly because of F4S. He really liked his fishing and began to realise that to do it well he needed a basic level of education, in subjects like maths and biology.

“He went from being quite difficult at the first session to realising that fishing was something he wanted to do and could be good at. He managed to overcome his problems with aggression and is now back at school.

“I think the key to dealing with any child is to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable, honest and friendly. You need to treat them as individuals rather than a group and as equals. It’s important not to talk up or down to them.

“It does not always work of course. We have a 50/50 success rate I think. With some of them it’s very difficult to break through the exterior they have erected against parents, teachers etc. If they have always been led to think they are useless and won’t amount to anything it can be quite difficult to turn that around.

“When they come out fishing some of them run wild – it’s a reaction to being outside and away from the school environment – but others find they appreciate the opportunity offered them by F4S and make use of it to move in a different direction.”