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.
  • The competition gives schools the opportunity to motivate reluctant readers and writers, and challenge their most able students
  • Students shortlisted for the award are invited to attend our annual Awards Ceremony, where shortlisted nominees are given an honourable mention and the winner is presented with the Essay Writing Competition Award.
  • 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 2021 essay writing competition

We’re really excited to be working with this year’s competition judge, Dan Freedman, author of the hugely popular Jamie Johnson football novels, adapted for TV by the BBC, which is now the most downloaded children’s show on the BBC iPlayer. Dan is an inspirational school speaker, and your students may well have been lucky enough to have met him on one of his 2,000+ school visits.  Dan’s passion for writing was preceded by a love of football – he was the Managing Editor for the English Football Association, interviewing the likes of Messi and Ronaldo on his World Cup tours. 

Dan’s latest novel, the multi-award winning thriller Unstoppable, was chosen by Oxford University as their Oxplore Book Club Book of the Month in July 2021. Visit the Oxplore web page for an analysis of the novel’s themes by psychologist Dr Lucy Bowes,  plus interesting facts, quizzes and resources.

Find out more about Dan Freedman on www.danfreedman.co.uk. Forest School have put together this range of resources, many of which are relevant to the essay question, that participating students may wish to use for reference.

Here at WCSQM we’ve been enjoying reading Dan’s latest Jamie Johnson novel, World Class and recommend it for all our World Class students.

“..genuine world class – well, that’s for-ever. Are you world class?” Sir Brian Robertson, quoted in Dan Freedman’s book World Class. 

The challenge

The role of parents, teachers and trusted adults in the lives of children is a big theme in Dan’s books. His latest novel, Unstoppable, revolves around the relationship of a father with his two twins, and explores the impact he has on their ultimate success, or lack thereof.

Dan’s question for students is:

“How much can motivation from parents, or the important adults in your life, help or hinder your success?”

Hear all about it from Dan himself…

Dan launched the essay writing competition at our virtual Symposium on 1st July. Watch the session here to learn more about Dan and his thoughts / tips on the essay writing competition, as he’s interviewed by brilliant young students and last year’s essay competition winners, Prisha Anand (Berkeley Academy, Year 6), and Gracie Rolinson (President Kennedy School, Year 9).

The Competition Rules

The rules are as follows:

  • The competition is open to all students at your school, but particularly recommended for those studying in years 5, 6, 7, 8 , academic year 2021-22. 
  • The maximum length of each submission is 2,500 words
  • Submitted essays should not include diagrams or graphics
  • Essays must be submitted electronically in A4 portrait, using black, Helvetica, 12-point font in either MS Word / Google Docs / PDF format
  • Each submitted essay should include the name and year group of the student, and the name of the school, in the footer.
  • A maximum of three submissions per school will be accepted, and must be submitted by 15th October 2021.
  • Essays should be submitted in a single email (with the three essays attached) to essays@worldclass-schools.org – i.e. one email per participating school
  • The covering email should confirm that these essays have been independently authored by the students
  • Late submissions will not be accepted
  • Shortlisting will be carried out by the English faculty and students of President Kennedy School in Coventry, whose students Caitlin and Grace (Year 10) came in first and third place in 2020. 
  • Dan Freedman will read all shortlisted entries and choose the winner and runners up.
  • All submitting schools/students will be advised of the shortlist by 29th November.
  • Further information on when / how the shortlisted students will be commemorated and the winners announced will be made available as soon as possible.

The Awards & Prizes

  • Shortlisted students will be honourably mentioned at the Awards Ceremony and on the WCSQM website.
  • Winners and runners up will be announced and awarded at the Awards Ceremony, and their essays will be made available to download from the WCSQM website.
  • The winning student’s school will receive a set of free books for the school library, kindly donated by Dan Freedman, and (depending on restrictions) either a virtual or in-person school visit from Dan himself.

How to Make Writing Exciting – A free CPD session for Primary School teachers

Our essay writing competition aims to make writing fun and accessible for all students, and by working with D

an we hope to be able to reach as many primary school students as possible, encouraging even the most reluctant readers and writers to have a go.

To this end, World Class schools recommended writing experts Pobble, are offering a free CPD session for primary school teachers, providing tools and resources to help get your students excited about writing. This session will be led by their co-founder and former Primary School Deputy Head Simon Blower (pictured right). Simon is now working with schools across the world to support them with teaching writing. In this free online workshop, Simon will share a range of brilliant free resources and ideas that teachers can use and access immediately to impact on writing in schools.

When? Thursday 23rd September, 3:45 – 4:30pm

For: Primary school teachers looking for practical tips, tools and resources to make writing exciting for your pupils

Sign up: by emailing maria.georgiou@worldclass-schools.org The session will be recorded and shared with all registered participants, so feel free to register even if you can’t make the live session.

The 2020 Winners

Our thanks go to the 2020 competition judge Sarah-Jaye Blakemore, Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and to 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.

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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