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 will be 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 award

There will be one winner and honourable mentions, who will receive the WCSQM Essay Competition Award and commemorations, virtually, at our Awards Ceremony in March 2021 from Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore herself. Winning essays will be published on the WCSQM website, with winning students and schools named in press releases. 

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 Shortlist

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

Our congratulations go to the following shortlisted students:

Primary School Shortlist

Conor Nottingham – Morley Newlands Academy

Prisha Anand – Berkeley Academy

Special School Shortlist

Elsie Self – The Ashley School

International School Shortlist

Reyes Perez Amerigo – Europa International School, Seville

Secondary School Shortlist

Caitlyn Hoyle & Grace Rolinson  – President Kennedy School
Dexter Lomax & Julia Zacharek – Kingswood Academy
Keerthana Appandairaj – Sandringham School
Rose Byrne – Hayes School
Sabrina Devji – St Albans Girls’ School
Shaili Joshi – Featherstone High School
Congratulations and best of luck to you all. Winners will be announced and awarded at our virtual Awards Ceremony in March 2021.

The 2019 winners and honourable mentions

In 2019 Dr Philip Knox set our World Class students a question that was highly topical heading toward election and in the face of contentious Brexit policies. 2019’s essay question:

“Does breaking the rules change the world?”

The question clearly struck a chord, and we had our highest number of submissions to date. The quality of submissions was so high Dr Knox couldn’t choose a winner, and for the first time we had two joint competition winners, a runner up, special commendations and honourable mentions, to acknowledge the high-quality and thought-provoking essays submitted.

The Joint essay competition winners…

Agnes Sykes-Whateley, King Ecgbert School

Read Agnes’ essay

Eedie Baker-Thompson, Forest Gate Community School

Read Eedie’s essay

The runner up…

Emily Rimmer, Tolworth Girls’ School

Read Emily’s essay

Special commendations were awarded to:

  • Radha Castellino, Alexandra Park School
  • Neo Lao, Seven Kings School
  • Daniel Sioson, St Mary’s College
  • Tegan Dean, The Morley Academy

Honourable mentions go to the following shortlisted students

  • Ramla Mohamed, Berkeley Academy Primary School
  • Michael Murrell, Churchill Special Free School
  • Lucie Tomlinson, Cardinal Hume Catholic School
  • Maria Soriano, Europa International School
  • Tarek Otri, Finham Park School
  • Lora Stamatova, St Mary’s College
  • Mia Stamatova, St Mary’s College
  • Ananya Sinhar, Tolworth Girls’ School
  • Maja Khela, Tolworth Girls’ School
The 2019 shortlisted and winning essay writing competition students.

The 2019 shortlisted and winning essay writing competition students.

All students submitting an essay into this year's competition were invited to join Phil Knox for a workshop
All students submitting an essay into the 2019 competition were invited to join Phil Knox for a workshop

All students submitting an essay into the 2019 competition were invited to join Phil Knox for a workshop focusing on this year’s essay question ‘Does Breaking the Rules Change the World?’ held at Lady Mitchell Hall prior to the awards ceremony.

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