A total of 20 schools and 80 students started the AQA Unlocking Potential programme back in December last year. We had amazing launch events in Guildford and Manchester and it was brilliant to catch up with so many people at the mid-point events in February and March this year. Who would have known then that schools would be shut, we’d all be locked down and all programmes like this would have to be run virtually.

On 7th July all the students, teachers and athletes should have been celebrating the end of the programme at London Zoo and receiving their certificates from Col. Dame Kelly Holmes. Sadly of course this couldn't happen but the Trust and AQA pulled out all the stops to deliver a memorable event that recognised the achievements of the students on the programme and went some way to making up for the lack of a final live event. All students received Amazon vouchers and also a voucher for Just Eat, so they could enjoy a celebration meal with family or friends. The video at the top of the page highlights just some of the brilliant work done by students at the schools. Our founder, Col. Dame Kelly Holmes spoke to the students during the session: 

It was a real pleasure to join the event and speak to all the students who took part in the programme this year. Lockdown has been so difficult for many people, but I was so impressed by the videos, podcasts and fundraising activities completed by so many of the students for their social action projects during this period. While of course it was sad we couldn’t meet in person, I really enjoyed taking part in the Q&A session, there were some great questions from the students and I wish everyone all the best for the next stages in their journeys, as life starts to come back to some form of normality.

We wanted to recognise students and schools who had gone that extra mile and continued throughout lockdown to deliver social action projects that would have an impact on therir community. Students from many schools did all kinds of wonderful projects, but the three winners below stood out and for their efforts, all received a pair of Beats headphones thanks to a generous donation.

Etone College were nominated by Anna Turney

All the students have absolutely excelled, from initially having very low confidence, anxiety and depression, to taking on a really brave social action project to help the whole school talk more openly about issues they face. During lockdown, they adapted this project and created a brilliant podcast for all young people facing isolation. 

Ethos College, nominated by Paul Broadbent

The students decided to raise funds for a charity close to their hearts and set up a Go Fund Me page to do a sponsored walk. They set out to do two marathons between them in two weeks and they achieved this and raised over £550 to donate to an autism charity in Huddersfield, in memory of a teacher at their school that died suddenly last Christmas.

Priory Pembroke, nominated by James Kirton

I would love to nominate Priory as they have probably been the best school I’ve ever worked with. They created a brilliant video around dealing with isolation, wrote every part of the script, managed their own zoom calls to organise it and then recorded and edited the video themselves. This alone was amazing but each of them were really struggling through lockdown, with extra problems to deal with than they faced pre-lockdown.

The event was hosted by European skate boarding champion Neil Danns

It was great to host the event and be able to recognise the achievements of these young people, especially at such a difficult time. We really hope they enjoyed the day as much as we’ve enjoyed being on this journey with them. They are inspiration to all of us here at the Trust and everyone at AQA.

Both the Trust and AQA would like to congratulate everyone involved in the programme this year  and wish all the young people the best of luck for the future

The AQA Unlocking Potential programme is delivered in partnership with AQA, the education charity. We are also grateful to players of People's Postcode Lottery for additional funding that allows us to support more young people on this programme.