AQA Unlocking Potential is a transformational mentoring programme for students aged from 11-19 years of age, delivered in partnership between education charity AQA and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

Nominations for the 2021/22 programme are now open until 5pm, 1 November 2021. To nominate your school and students, please complete the nomination form here.

AQA Unlocking Potential aims to raise student's aspirations and expectations on future life goals, whether from school to Further Education, Further Education to Higher Education, or into training and employment. Teachers can nominate students who they believe would benefit from mentoring support to develop life skills and increase their confidence, self-belief and motivation. Our programmes are delivered by world class athletes, who we know make exceptional role models and mentors, using their amazing experience from the world of sport.

The programme provides the following outcomes for students.            

  • Increased confidence, self-esteem and resilience
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Enhanced aspirations and expectations on future life goals, whether from school to college, college to university or into training and employment
  • Develops transferable skills such as presentation and leadership, as well as using own initiative 
  • Improved teachability
  • Improved motivation to take positive action in their community
  • Raises the profile of young people and the positive impact they can make

See more about the 2020/21 programme in the video below:

    Students benefit from:

    • Personal mentoring support from a Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete mentor who will visit the school/college site six times throughout the course of the programme (each session is 3 hours)
    • Nine programme sessions in total
    • Specifically designed materials and resources to support learning
    • Opportunity to meet participating schools and more Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete mentors at launch, mid-point and celebration events (funding to support travel provided)
    • Opportunity to design and deliver a social action project in the local community (funding support available)

    Last academic year the programme was delivered through a blend of face to face and online sessions. This year we are hoping to deliver all sessions in person, however, there are contingency plans in place to switch mentoring sessions and or deliver events online if required.

    In total your students will attend nine sessions throughout the programme.  Your six in-school sessions will be led by the same Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete mentor and your students will have the opportunity to meet their peers and other athlete mentors at the launch, mid point and celebration events. Each pupil will receive an AQA Unlocking Potential workbook to support their learning.   

    Programme Timescale:

    Key timings for the AQA Unlocking Potential programme are as follows:

    Area Date
    Nominations 4th October - 1st November at 5pm
    Judging w/c 8th November
    Launch Events

    30th November - Guildford

    2nd December - Manchester

    Between Launch & mid point events

    3 x Athlete Mentor Visits

    Mid Point Events

    March/April - Guildford

    March/April - Manchester

    Between mid point and Celebration event

    3 x Athlete Mentor visits

    Celebration Event

    Early July (venue in London TBC)

    Criteria and selection process

    Initial shortlisting will be carried out by representatives from AQA and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust who will select nominees that best demonstrate the criteria set out below.  Shortlisted nominees will then be forwarded to a panel of judges who will decide on the final group of schools and students.  The judging panel will be made up of representatives from the world of education and industry, including representatives from AQA and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. Entries submitted after the closing date will not be considered.

    Applications will be judged on:

    • the suitability of nominated students, including how they will work together as a group
    • your school’s ability to facilitate the programme


    When selecting four students for AQA Unlocking Potential please consider

    • Their individual suitability for the programme
    • The group dynamic of your students

    As a teacher at your school/college, you must nominate four students, aged 11 and 19 years who you believe are not fulfilling their potential. They must be nominated based on being held back by one or more of the following:

    • Challenging personal circumstances
    • Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence
    • Lack of local opportunities

    The students also need to have demonstrated their strength of character, despite being held back by one or more of the above.  Attributes demonstrated could include one or more of the following:

    • Commitment – have shown willingness to give their time and energy to something that they believe in or want to do
    • Enthusiasm – have shown energetic interest in a particular subject or activity and an eagerness to be involved
    • Determination – have shown the ability to continue trying to do something, although it is challenging
    • Integrity – have shown that they can stick to a set of strong moral principles

    In regards, to group dynamics please give consideration to how the group will work together to support and encourage each other on activities such as their social action project.   

    School/College commitment:

    Before applying to the programme, please consider the following requirements and responsibilities of participating schools. You will be asked to demonstrate how you meet these requirements in the application form:     

    • Support and buy in from your Senior Leadership Team
    • A named lead teacher contact who is responsible for coordinating the programme in line with the teacher role below

    Lead teacher role:

    Prior to the programme start

    • Ensure all students complete and submit programme registration forms and consent
    • Attend a pre programme planning call with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust
    • Organise and schedule sessions with your athlete mentor. We strongly recommend booking in at least the first three sessions at the start if not all six
    • Upload pupil information to the Dame Kely Holmes Trust
    • Ensure athlete mentor is briefed on your school’s Health and Safety and safeguarding policies prior to delivery including who to contact should an issue arise

    During programme delivery

    • Ensure students can and do attend sessions
    • Attend all sessions
    • Upload pupil attendance to the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust
    • Support students to complete their workbooks and provide any pastoral support required between sessions
    • Update athlete mentors on any relevant student information
    • Provide support on social action project planning and delivery (as agreed with your athlete mentor)
    • Support athlete mentors gather monitoring and feedback forms
    • Accompany students to regional and national events

    Post programme

    • Support athlete mentors to gather monitoring and feedback forms
    • Submit teacher feedback on the programme

    If you are unable to meet the requirements, please take the time to consider whether the programme is right for your school at this time.

    During the application window, we will be offering two online 'find out more' sessions to support with applications:

    • 13 Oct, 4-4.30pm
    • 21 Oct, 4-4.30pm

    Please register your interest in attending either session by emailing Dame Kelly Holmes Trust Programmes Officer Leigh Hall: [email protected]   

    To nominate your school and students, please complete the nomination form here

    Further Information

    For further information, please contact Leigh Hall via e-mail at: [email protected]