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Last Friday (04 November 2022), Harry Jones, a student at the Chiltern Way Academy in Wendover was named the national winner of SLQ Sports Leaders’ annual Learner of the Year Award.
The Learner of the Year Award, now in its fourth year, is our annual opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements and progress made by young people taking our qualifications and awards. Each year, entries are welcomed from the 86,000-plus young people that currently take on our courses before a panel of staff select three runners-up and an overall winner.
This year, Harry was selected by the panel after they were impressed with his entry describing the transformation he felt he underwent by becoming a Sports Leader. From someone who did not feel “sporty” or very able to chat easily with others, he now feels confident to lead his peers in sporting activities and events.
On receiving his trophy, Harry said: “It felt very surreal. It felt odd that I’d actually won out of so many people - I was genuinely just in awe that I had been chosen. When I started my course, I felt quite nervous. I didn’t feel very comfortable around people at that time. Gradually, going through the Sports Leaders qualifications from year nine to year 10 and year 11, I opened up more and began interacting more with people.”
By combining his newly developed skills with own experience, Harry has been able to teach students with autism spectrum disorder difficulties, which has given him further insight in the challenges faced by his peers and how to adapt for individual needs.
Harry added: “I believe the qualifications will give me a really big leg up on the competition to get whatever job I'm looking to go for. Whether that be perhaps a teaching assistant or a PE teacher. And maybe someday I might be the one nominating people for Sports Leaders awards myself.”
At a special assembly, held at the school and attended by Harry’s parents, teachers and pupils, Harry was presented the award by SLQ Sports Leaders’ Director of Engagement and Marketing, Liam Hope, pictured above.
Mr Hope said: “The Learner of the Year Award is designed to recognise the efforts and achievements of the young people who work through our courses. It is our opportunity to shine a light on the transformation these young people undergo as their self-belief increases and their confidence soars.
“It's brilliant to see students at Chiltern Way Academy looking up to Harry as a role model. There is nothing more powerful than young people leading themselves and it has been great to see the results of peer-to-peer learning and encouragement being acknowledged and rewarded today”.
Harry’s nomination for the award was completed with support from the Head of PE and Outdoor Education at Chiltern Way Academy, Steve Cristofoli.
Mr Cristofoli said: “I was extremely proud to see Harry collect that award today. He's worked incredibly hard over the last two years, beginning with us doing the Sports Leaders Level One qualification and then progressing on to the Level Two. He has made incredible progress in terms of his communication and building relationships with the other students in the school.
“He's a confident young man now. I know he has aspirations to perhaps stay as part of the academy and become a leader of some sort as a PE teacher or working with the support team. I'm sure he can do anything he wants to do.”
The videos for each of the finalists, including Harry’s, can be viewed here.
Entries for the 2023 Learner of the Year Award will open in early 2023, with schools or centres delivering SLQ Sports Leader courses eligible to enter. To hear when nominations for the 2023 award open, and to receive all the latest updates, make sure to follow us on Twitter.
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