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My Name Is Tommy

Tommy is 19 and was excluded from nine schools. He tells his story of rejection, frustration and hope and meets his old teacher to confront what happened.

The first time Tommy was excluded he was 5 years old. Moved from a large mainstream school, he entered a small Pupil Referral Unit with only 10 pupils all of whom had been removed from mainstream education.

"I was the youngest in the school and at the bottom of their food chain. So I was bullied for my weight and because I had social attachment issues with my mum. I couldn't take my frustrations out on the other kids because I was such a small child, so I started to lash out at my teachers."

As Tommy grew older, his problems deepened both at school and at home. Eventually, he joined a special school for boys with severe social, emotional and mental health needs. It wasn't until after he left school that Tommy finally received a medical diagnosis of ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In these recordings, Tommy goes back to one of his old schools to have a frank discussion with his teacher about the reasoning behind exclusions and how schools could help to prevent them. Plus, Carol Homden from Coram Children's Charity discusses new research on the experiences of families and children living with these issues.

After multiple exclusions, life went downhill for Tommy, until he hit rock bottom aged 17. Now he's trying to turn his life around, and he chats to current mentor, Josh Babarinde from social enterprise Cracked It, about the things that have helped him to make progress.

The Producer is Michelle Martin.

Tommy was using a pseudonym during this programme. Support organisations are listed in the Related Links section below.

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28 minutes