Last chance to nominate students for unique mentoring programme

Published: Thursday 9 Jan 2014

Increased confidence, improvements in school work and a personal sense of pride are just some of the positive changes in students who have been on AQA's unique Unlocking Potential mentoring programme, research has revealed.

The news comes as the 17 January deadline for nominations for this year's scheme approaches. The scheme is focused on improving students' self-confidence and building on their strengths. The young people aged 14 to 19, who win a coveted place on the six-month-long Unlocking Potential programme, will plan and deliver a project that benefits their local community.

Alison Smith, a teacher at Cuthbert's College, Merseyside, saw first-hand the difference that being mentored by champion skateboarder, Neil Danns, made to her student, Matthew.  

Alison says the programme, run in partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, has been transforming for Matthew:

"Matthew has a complex set of issues to deal with, but Unlocking Potential has taught him to celebrate his unique qualities and deal with the tough times in a more positive, healthier way. He is performing better in exams at school and he is much more positive about his future prospects."

Andrew Hall, Chief Executive of AQA, said: "With just over a week to nominate students for the 2014 Unlocking Potential programme, we are urging teachers to identify and nominate those extra special young people who could really benefit from skilled, intense mentoring support.

"The evidence from students and teachers alike is clear - this programme is making a huge difference to young lives and we are looking forward to supporting another 20 pupils this year."

Assistant Head, Dan Bodey, from Fulford School, York, who nominated his student Jack in 2013, said the programme, had given him additional ideas on how to support students with 'poor resilience and self-esteem.'

Jack was mentored by GB Rugby League player Paul Broadbent and appears in our Unlocking Potential video.

Dan said: "The benefits of the programme have been the necessity for Jack to show maturity, high levels of organisation and good communication skills, all things that were not natural to him, but built on his confident sports ability. We will strongly consider nominating another student for this year's programme after the positive effect this has had on Jack."

Last year's students raised over £7,000 for charity and created community projects such as a talent and fashion show, a video project about life in foster care and a dodge ball tournament to raise funds for a guide dog. Research also showed 94% of young people felt more connected to their local community after the programme.

All applications for the free programme will be reviewed by a judging panel made up of members of the teaching community, higher education and business.

Please visit the Unlocking Potential page to nominate a student and watch the 2013 case studies.


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