Joe's Story

A courageous little boy from Mansfied defies the odds and excels at school, despite being diagnosed with a ‘sleeping’ form of cancer.

The Context

Joe was diagnosed with myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic disorder when he was just six years old – a rare stem cell disorder in his bone marrow. Following numerous trips to the hospital for chemotherapy, weekly blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant, Joe lost two years of schooling.

His mum, Lisa, said: “Joe was in the middle of Key Stage One when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was listless and tired and poorly on and off for years. He missed so much school that even when he was well enough to attend, he felt frustrated by being behind his peers. It was safe to say he did not enjoy school. It was horrible to witness because his whole life had been turned upside down. It was heart-breaking. When he arrived at Junior School, he was achieving well behind his age-related expectations.”

The Impact of Achieving Schools

Joe joined Eastlands Junior School in Mansfield, just as it had signed up to Achievement for All. The AfA coach worked in partnership with the school to guide them in supporting children like Joe.

Thanks to this, by the end of Year 5 Joe had attained level 3B in maths and writing and 3a in reading – both equivalent to his age related expectations. Mrs Sadler, teacher at Eastlands Junior School, said: “The progress achieved by Joe is remarkable. Both he and his family have been through such a traumatic and challenging time – it is so rewarding to see how well he is doing now. The Achievement for All programme and our coach Sharon Wood, have been absolutely fantastic. Sharon has helped us to really engage with the families of all our children, but especially those which are struggling.”

Lisa said: “Following support from the school, Joe has become a different child. I cannot believe how much he has progressed, especially in reading. Teachers are working with us as a family to bring his interests, such as Lego, Star Wars, and football, into his work. He is like a different child – he wants to go to school every day, he is happy, and most importantly he is enjoying life.”

Joe said: "I enjoy going to school, I am a lot happier now I'm better and not going to hospital as much. The teachers treat me like everyone else and help me when I need it. I really like maths, especially mental maths and timetables. In literacy, I enjoy doing grammar and telling stories, and I love reading at the moment especially as I'm reading my favourite box set Diary of A Wimpy Kid, which my mum and dad bought for me. I also love doing sport activities like football, multi skills and PE, I do several after school clubs too."

Joe's mother added: “From being so far behind at school, to where his is now, we just couldn’t have imagined it. He is currently in remission and has been for the past four years, with yearly check-ups at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. We’ve all worked hard, but especially Joe. We couldn’t be more proud of him and his outlook is much more positive. A huge thank you to Achievement for All and all the staff at Eastlands.”