AQA Unlocking Potential students enter the ‘Dragons’ Den’

Published: Friday 11 Mar 2022

AQA Unlocking Potential students travelled to our Guildford and Manchester offices to pitch their social action project ideas to our very own ‘Dragons’ Den’.

As part of AQA Unlocking Potential, the mentoring programme AQA runs with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, all the young people 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 or school.

Since the launch in December, students have been working with their athlete mentors from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to refine their ideas to present to the Dragons’ Den panel – made up of AQA staff, teachers and athletes – to secure funding for their project.

At the events, students and teachers were joined by their athlete mentors and AQA staff volunteers, to take part in team-building and ice breaker games, then later they worked on perfecting their pitches to the Dragons.

There were some brilliant ideas and pitches, with the young people showing a lot of courage to step out of their comfort zone and present to a room full of their peers, adults and the panel of Dragons, who had some questions of their own and some helpful advice for each of the groups.

Finally all students were brought back together to reflect on the day’s activities, share what they enjoyed most and what they had learnt from their time on the programme so far.

AQA’s Executive Director for Strategy and Business Development, Shabnam Shahani, who was also one of the panellists for the Dragons’ Den, said:

“It’s a fantastic programme. It helps young people come together and do something that’s quite entrepreneurial, encouraging team-bonding and collaboration.

“I thought all the projects were brilliant and all the presenters did so well; I loved the degree of preparation and the supportive atmosphere in the room. You could tell that they really believed in their project, it’s right there on their faces.

“Their ideas were tremendous, ranging from projects about the environment and climate change, to using sport and physical activity to help young people with disabilities and raise awareness.

“AQA Unlocking Potential is a brilliant learning opportunity and a great way for AQA to get involved in the community.”

Rasha Jomaa, a teacher at Theale Green School, said:

“It’s the first year we’ve participated in the AQA Unlocking Potential programme and we’ve definitely seen raised aspirations among our students already.

“And even though they may not know exactly where they’re going in the future, they have started to think about it and talk about it a lot more, questioning options that they have, like college and opportunities beyond school.

“I think working with an athlete mentor means that students can see that they can reach a lot further than they previously presumed. They see that their mentor has also been through struggles and recognise that they didn’t get to where they are now easily; they had to work hard for it, and they can apply that to themselves.”

The social action projects will be delivered between April and July this year and you can follow their progress on twitter using #AQAUnlockingPotential. To find out more visit:

AQA Unlocking Potential students – Guildford

AQA Unlocking Potential students – Guildford

AQA Unlocking Potential students – Manchester

AQA Unlocking Potential students – Manchester

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