The AQA Unlocking Potential programme kicked off for another year in early December with 80 students from 20 schools across the UK taking part in two launch events in Manchester & Guildford. The programme started back in 2012 and since then, nearly 400 young people have taken part in the programme since its launch.

AQA Unlocking Potential is an eight month ‘transformational’ mentoring programme for young people aged from 11-19 years of age, run jointly with education charity AQA. The programme is targeted at young people who are facing challenging personal circumstances, who their teachers believe would benefit considerably from additional support.

At the launch events, students, teachers and athlete mentors all meet for the first time and spend the day getting to know each other, finding out more about the programme and also some of the journeys their athlete mentors have been on. Volunteers from AQA also take part and help ensure that ice-breakers and group activities all run smoothly.

'We are raring to go!' 'The best day ever' 'I can't believe I've been selected' were just three of the comments from some of the students at the launch in Guildford

Some of the schools from the Guildford launch

Over the next three months, athlete mentors will visit their schools three times between now and the mid-point events in March where the schools will all meet up again to renew friendships, review their progress, and pitch for funding for their social action projects.

Mark Bedlow, Interim Chief Executive of AQA, said: 

Realising potential is the AQA motto and what better way to demonstrate that ethos than by unlocking the potential of this specially chosen group of young people. It’s a programme that all of the AQA staff value highly and they are always so impressed by the young people that take part. We look forward to seeing them grow in confidence and achieve great things with their social action projects over the next eight months and everything they do in the future.

Students, athletes, volunteers and teachers at the launch in Manchester

We'd like to wish all the students taking part of the programme the best of luck and hope they find it an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Youcan follow the progress of the students from the schools and colleges selected over the next nine months via Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AQAUnlockingPotential. In the meantime, do check out our review of the 2018/19 programme.