Last week saw the mid-point events of our AQA Unlocking Potential programme, our eight month transformational mentoring programme for students aged from 11-19 years of age, delivered in partnership with AQA.

Events were held in the AQA offices in Guildford and in Manchester for the eighty students across the twenty schools taking part in the programme. It was an opportunity for the students to come back together half way through the programme, review their progress so far, renew acquaintances from the launch event and prepare for the all important Dragon’s Den presentation pitch!

   

As part of the AQA Unlocking Potential programme, all the schools have to deliver a social action project, an initiative thought up and delivered by the students that will have an impact on their local community. The students have been working with their athlete mentors in schools over the last couple of months to refine their ideas and at the mid-point event, they present these ideas to a Dragon’s Den panel in order to receive funding to help turn their ideas into reality.

The mid-point event in Manchester was a fantastic day. It was brilliant to see how far the students from all the schools had come since the launch event. They all seemed so much more confident and it was great to see them supporting each other as they explained their plans for their social action projects.

Scott, teacher at Sir Thomas Boughey Academy.

Looking back on the first get together of the programme in December last year, it was amazing to see the progress the groups had made. Where initially there was shyness, there was now confidence and belief and all the groups stood up in front of their peers and the Dragons and delivered fantastic pitches on projects as diverse as supporting Ukraine, creating a sensory learning centre and organising an inclusive sports day.

  

Rasha, who teaches at Theale Green School who attended the Guildford programme said:

The programme has helped the students ‘achieve the impossible’. Working with their athlete mentor Ben Fletcher, they’ve seen they can do more than they thought, they’re now motivated to do something long lasting in their community by trying to make improvements in their local recreation ground. In the space of the day of the event, they went from being nervous of speaking one to one with other students, to being able to present confidently to a whole room.

 

James Kirton, Olympic swimmer and athlete mentor added:

It was brilliant to see all the students back in one room again for the mid-point event of the programme. The energy in the room was fantastic and you could see how much their confidence had grown from when we first met back in December last year. I know by working with my fellow athlete mentors, they are going to keep on developing that confidence and belief and I'm already looking forward to seeing them all at the celebration event in July this year.

 Following these events, the students now go back to their schools and resume working with their athlete mentors to continue developing their confidence, self-belief and motivation while also delivering their social action projects. We’ll be following the progress of the schools as they deliver these projects in their communities and we’ll be sharing as many as we can on our social media pages over the months ahead.

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