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Former teachers have praised a former Dagenham student who used to be too shy to sing before sweeping to victory on the X Factor talent contest with her group Little Mix.

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The girls became the first group in the talent contest’s seven years to take the top prize of a £1million recording contract during the weekend’s final.

Before she convinced judges on the show’s panel, Jesy Nelson, 20, left lasting ­impressions with her teachers at Jo Richardson ­Community School (JRCS) in ­Dagenham.

Among those who spotted her talent early was music instructor Scott Richardson who worked very closely with Jesy, who is from Romford, and Little Mix when they first went to judges’ houses.

He told the Post: “She ­excelled in dance and drama, but was reticent to sing at school.

“Early experience ­onstage had affected her ­confidence and she felt awkward performing her GCSE coursework.

“Jesy approached me for some guidance with her first audition, and I was delighted to hear how she’d developed as a singer.

“When she called me to confirm that they had made it through to the live shows, I was ecstatic.”

Jesy entered the competition in August and moved on to the boot camp phase, where the judges put her into a group with Perrie, Jade and Leigh-Anne to form Little Mix.

Head of drama at JRCS, Catherine Cook, remembers her strong work ethic.

She said: “Jess was a wonderful drama student and cared deeply about her work.

“She had incredible ability to perform solo and as part of a group.

“She always rehearsed tirelessly for performances and indeed talent show dances. A lovely young woman.”

Assistant head Michaela Boller remembers Jesy from personal development education lessons.

She said: “Jess always could see issues from all perspectives and she made teaching the subject easy with her enthusiasm and ­empathy for what could be emotive topics.” Mr Richardson, who watched the girls perform Please Don’t Stop The Music said he was “proud to see an ex JRCS pupil fulfil a lifelong ambition”.

He said: “I hope them the very best for the future and am confident they will be a fantastic success as artists and role models for future generations of performers.”

Former winners of the competition are Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Leon Jackson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle.

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