Nick Wood - Winner of the Student of the Year Award 2011

Nick Wood was one of a number of students with behavioural difficulties at Lancaster School who were encouraged by teachers to join Sky Sports Living for Sport in order to increase their confidence and self esteem, learn new skills and gain a sense of achievement.

Teachers at Lancaster School developed a project to train pupils with behavioural difficulties to become sports mentors for children at a local primary school and improve their own confidence and motivation.

Disengaged with school and suffering low self esteem, Nick rarely attended school and was in poor physical health. As a statemented student with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in terms of reading and writing, Nick found it very difficult to succeed in academic subjects. This was compounded by his low confidence levels, which often led to either frequent absence from school or a refusal to do any work in the classroom when he did attend.

The Sky Sports Living for Sport mentoring project gave Nick the opportunity to show his talents and helped him build on his teamwork, communication and organisational skills. However Nick really started to turn his life around after meeting Dermot Gascoyne. The Athlete Mentor’s motivational speech and boxing exercises inspired Nick to strive for the best and, when Dermot took him to one side to tell him he thought he had talent, it was as if a light had been switched on.

From that moment onwards, Nick found a sense of purpose and a confidence he had previously lacked. He began attending school more regularly, started going to bed early so he could get up for school and stayed behind after school to train. Sessions with a fitness coach encouraged Nick to stick to a rigorous training schedule, which taught him the discipline he needed to improve his sport and turn his lifestyle around by cutting down smoking and learning about nutrition.

As his self esteem grew as a boxer so his life at school improved. Nick’s grades in Maths and English shot up as he drew upon his new found confidence, applying the lessons he was learning in boxing to his other subjects. Soon he was engaged in lessons he previously avoided, writing about his boxing lesson plans in English and designing exercises and charts for his Maths work to record his fitness levels.

Motivated by his success, Nick devoted his own time to help children at a local primary school. Having taught sports lessons himself Nick began to empathise more with his teachers and came to understand why they set rules and boundaries. Consequently his behaviour improved dramatically and, despite completing his project in May, Nick has continued to train outside of school as well as regularly returning to the school in his own time to assist with coaching other students.

Dan Pinder, Alternative Curriculum Manager at The Lancaster School, commented: “I am so proud of Nick and the progress he has made throughout this project. He has used the skills and disciplines he has learnt to improve his life and future and also gives up his own time to mentor others.”

Read more on Nick winning the Sky Sports Living for Sport Award at Wembley