• Swim star James Kirton to mentor Parkside students
Swim star James Kirton to mentor Parkside students

Swim star James Kirton to mentor Parkside students

The four students have been chosen for the life-changing AQA Unlocking Potential programme.

Year seven students Raymond Law and Will Page and year 12 students Mahmood Tariq and Sophie Dyson will be mentored by former Olympic swimmer James Kirton.

Unlocking Potential is run by exam board and education charity AQA and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, and has chosen Parkside as one of only 20 UK schools in this year’s programme.

AQA Unlocking Potential provides mentoring for young people aged 11 to 19 who have shown outstanding leadership potential, along with resilience to overcome many diverse challenges.

Students are paired with trained mentors who have competed at world-class sporting events - including the Olympics and Paralympics - overcoming their own personal challenges to represent their country.

The young people at Parkside, chosen as part of the school’s Aspire2b scheme, will work for eight months with James Kirton, a Great Britain Olympian.

He will provide personal mentoring for the students to help unlock further hidden attitudes and skills, and help them to deliver a social action project towards the end of the programme.

Keeping with the idea of an Olympic legacy, the four students wanted to leave their own legacy at Parkside, and decided to base their project on enabling the school to build a high-quality long jump and triple jump facility.

After pitching the project to over 100 peers and “dragons” at a launch event in Manchester, the project has built up to momentum to now include a national building firm who will hopefully be taking the project on.

The students will then be required to present their ideas to architects and suppliers in order to secure their services and hopefully get the project off the ground.

Parkside deputy head Matt Barratt said: “The students have already worked incredibly well together and presented a fantastic pitch in Manchester and also to Andy Taylor, the head at Parkside School. We are really hopeful of working with future businesses to ensure their legacy project comes to fruition.”

The Parkside students will attend a celebration event in London, where they will present the progress of the project so far and the next steps they require to take.

Toby Salt, Chief Executive of AQA, said: “Realising potential is our AQA motto, and what better way to demonstrate that ethos than by unlocking the potential of this specially chosen group of young people?

“I look forward to seeing them grow in confidence and achieve great things with their social action projects over the next eight months and everything they do in the future.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, double gold Olympian and founder of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, said AQA Unlocking Potential was not aimed at developing the potential of future sports stars, but instead targeted young people who showed real potential.

She said: “The athlete mentors will work with these young people to develop skills and knowledge to increase attainment as well as further improve their personal skills.

“I’m really excited that this fantastic programme is now in its eighth year, and to see more young people transformed through our life changing programme!”