All accredited World Class Schools are invited to enter up to three students for our annual WCSQM Essay Writing Competition. The annual competition gives World Class students the opportunity to challenge themselves with a piece of writing centred around an intellectually provocative theme, encouraging thought and debate on a range of topics that have a direct impact on young people.

The benefits of entering

  • The essay title is set, and shortlisted entries judged by, a noted academic and/or influencer, renowned in their field of expertise.
  • Students can request World Class feedback on their entry from the independent competition judge and/or the World Class school nominated to oversee the competition.
  • Students shortlisted for the award are invited to attend our annual Awards Ceremony in December, where shortlisted nominees are given an honourable mention and the winner is presented with the Essay Writing Competition Award – perfect for any school’s trophy cupboard!
  • Names of the shortlisted nominees and the winner / winning essays are published on the WCSQM website.

“The impact on Ruby Bennett’s confidence in English has been massive since her shortlisting last year so it was all incredibly worthwhile. Hopefully we can go one better this year.” Howard Mealey, Wade Deacon High School, Widnes.

The 2020 essay writing competition

This year’s competition was judged by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. Professor Blakemore leads the university’s Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group, where research focuses on the development of social cognition and decision making in the human adolescent brain, and adolescent mental health. Her most recent publication is Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain.


The challenge

Sarah-Jayne’s essay question is:

“School classrooms look the same across history and across countries. But is the classroom the best way to educate future generations in the 21st century?

What would the ideal education system look like?”

The 2020 Winners

We’d like to thank the English department at King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, awarded 2019 World Class School of the Year, for carrying out the incredibly difficult task of choosing the shortlist from the exceptionally high standard essays submitted. And we’d like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to every student that took the time to consider the essay question, and then submit their own thought provoking and World Class response.

“Thanks so much for the opportunity, it’s been fantastic for our students to experience the process. Reading such high quality and thought-provoking work of others has allowed our students to aspire even higher in their own work. Through shared appreciation for not only different content and ideas but style and structure, students were able to explore what makes an effective piece of persuasive writing. The debate of what makes effective education was well and truly opened by the impressive range of ideas and research and also opened our teaching staffs’ eyes to the experience of being a student, not only in these unprecedented times but in the 21st century as the part of the current educational system.” Claire Exton, Assistant Head of English, King Ecgbert School

Congratulations to the winners…

1st place

Caitlin Hoyle, Year 10, President Kennedy School

Read Caitlin’s essay

2nd place

Shaili Joshi, Year 9, Featherstone High School

Read Shaili’s essay

3rd place

Grace Rolinson, Year 10, President Kennedy School

Read Grace’s essay

Honourable mentions go to
  • Celia Ruane, Year 9, Sacred Heart Catholic High School
  • Conor Nottingham, Year 5, Morley Newlands Academy
  • Dexter Lomax, Year 9, Kingswood Academy
  • Elsie Self, The Ashley School
  • Julia Zacharek, Year 10, Kingswood Academy
  • Keerthana Appandairaj, Year 10, Sandringham School
  • Prisha Anand, Year 5, Berkeley Academy
  • Reyes Perez Amerigo, Europa International School, Seville
  • Rose Byrne, Year 10, Hayes School
  • Rosie Bell, Year 10, Bluecoat Wollaton Academy
  • Sabrina Devji, Year 9, St Albans Girls’ School
  • Zahaara Jones, Year 9, Forest Gate Community School

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore reveals why she chose the winners of the 2020 Essay Writing Competition

Claire Exton, English Faculty at World Class King Ecgbert School, shares her experience on shortlisting the competition and the standard of essays received.

King Ecgbert A Level English students tell us how they found the essay writing competition shortlisting process

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