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Olympic hero Kelly Holmes asks teachers to find the pupils who 'just need a little bit more help'

We all know at least one of those kids: intelligent, sparky, but not really on track-academically. Their home life is a bit chaotic perhaps, they can struggle to concentrate.

It’s often hard to know what to do with them – teachers can see the potential but don’t always have the time to help them to blossom.

But now Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes (pictured) wants to come to the rescue, calling on staff to nominate pupils for a mentoring scheme with a difference.

The six-month-long Unlocking Potential project teams professional athletes with young people to help them overcome their challenging personal circumstances and develop community projects.

The idea is the young people learn about being committed to a task and seeing a project through to the end. The athletes, in turn, learn about life outside of the “bubble” of sport.

Last year, 20 participants planned and managed events including a charity fashion show, a personal video project about life in foster care, a dodgeball tournament to raise funds for a guide dog and a breakfast club at a participant’s school.

Dame Kelly, whose charity the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust runs the scheme with exam board AQA, told TES:

“The teachers who are nominating their pupils are doing a great thing by actually identifying people out there who just need a little bit more help…a lot of teachers do notice something maybe quite special in somebody who is may be not hitting grades or marks.

“If the teacher can put someone forward and a difference can be made, you are not only changing one person’s life but a lot of people’s lives around it.”

She said it was important that the project changed whole lives rather than providing “a little stardust moment”.

 “Teachers have a unique position – everyone will have someone who is suitable for this programme,” she added.

Teachers can nominate 14 to 19-year-old students for the 2014 Unlocking Potential programme from 11 November.

The closing date for nominations is 17 January 2014.

For more info, visit the AQA website for updates and information on how to nominate a student.

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