Tilly & Paige from Ebbsfleet Academy School took part in the AQA Unlocking Potential programme in the 2018/19 academic year, an eight month transformational mentoring programme, run jointly with education charity AQA.

Tilly & Paige on stage with Dame Kelly Holmes and fellow students at the AQA Unlocking Potential celebration event.

Over the course of the eight months, students work with the Trust's athlete mentors to develop life skills and increase their confidence, self-belief and motivation. They also plan and deliver a social action project in their local community. Tilly & Paige from Ebbsfleet Academy took part in the programme and were mentored by Commonwealth gold medallist fencer, Claire Bennett. This is their story:

Tilly

Before I started the programme life was stressful and hard to cope with. My teacher thought this would be a good programme to do, to help boost my confidence and talking skills with other people. Working with Claire throughout the programme has been great, she has encouraged me to achieve my potential, she has been great. I've learned new skills such as how to manage things better like preparing for work and speaking in front of people, it's really helped to control my anxiety around this. Now the programme has finished, I am hoping to be able to talk to more people and speak out more about stuff that I am passionate about. I am now going to North West Kent College to get my level three qualification in fashion. It's really helped to boost my confidence and show who I really am.

Paige

Before I started this programme, my life was really stressful and disorganised. I was struggling with my school work and my teachers believed it would help with this as well as help to improve my mental health.  Claire has helped motivate me to do things I didn't really want to do. She has helped me with my confidence and to believe in myself. My favourite parts of the programme were doing the social action project, meeting new people and developing myself. For the social project we organised a workshop to raise awareness around body image. The programme has helped me to be able to focus on my school work and put more effort into my GCSEs next year. It has made me realise that meeting new people develops who I am.

AQA Unlocking Potential is run by world class athletes who acts as a mentor to the young people throughout the programme. Claire Bennett worked with Tilly & Paige:

Over the course of the programme, Tilly & Paige have progressed and developed in all of the areas that they set out to develop, such as confidence, self-esteem, attitude and motivation. They committed themselves fully to the programme and have thrived. They delivered their social action projects with confidence and have inspired both myself, the students and teachers at their school. I am beyond proud of them both and what they have achieved. I know that they will go on to achieve their potential in whatever they choose to do next, this is just the start of a very exciting chapter for all of them! 

You can read more about the AQA Unlocking Potential celebration event here