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 were delighted to work 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 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?”

The 2021 Winners

We are very grateful to the World Class English faculty at President Kennedy School, whose Year 10 student Caitlin Hoyle won the essay competition in 2020, for carrying out the shortlisting of this year’s essay writing competition.

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.

“Despite the demanding nature of the shortlisting task alongside the challenges of school life at the moment, the experience was immensely valuable, and our students and staff enjoyed having the chance to read the essays we received. Thanks again for allowing us the opportunity to lead on this task; what a fantastic, insightful experience for our students.”  Halena Tovey, Teacher of English, President Kennedy School

Congratulations to the winners…

Lily Kennedy was awarded the winners’ trophy by Dan Freedman at the WCSQM Awards Ceremony

1st place

Lily Kennedy, Year 7, St Albans Girls’ School

Read Lily’s essay

Runners up

Callum Dootson, Year 9, The Ashley School

Read Callum’s essay

Alan Swinney, Year 8, Sedgefield Community College

Read Alan’s essay

Honourable mentions go to
  • Ana Eloísa Almansa Muñoz, Year 7, Europa International School, Seville
  • Mohammed Toure, Year 6, Hillcrest Academy
  • Riley Chimbetete, Year 8, Bluecoat Wollaton Academy
  • Rumaitha Islam, Year 8, Featherstone High School
  • Sumayyah Dedat, Year 9, Finham Park School
  • Zehra Shah, Year 9, Higham Lane School
  • Lexy Bee-Reid, Year 10, King Ecgbert School
  • Axella Evans, Yar 10, King Ecgbert School
  • Thea Lawson, Year 8, The Morley Academy
  • Arya Bassi, Year 9, President Kennedy School
  • Abshara Piratheeban, Year 8, President Kennedy School
  • Eva Matthew, Year 8, The Bishop of Llandaff CiW High School

Essay competition winners and commended students were awarded on 6th December 2021 at the WCSQM Awards Ceremony held at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University

“Lily and I wanted to thank you for the amazing time we spent with you yesterday.  The event had such a great atmosphere and so much positive energy, it was wonderful to be part of it.  You really did succeed in making the students feel like they could achieve anything. For Lily to win the award really was the icing on the cake.” Emily Kennedy, mother of Lily Kennedy, 2021 Essay Competition winner

Dan Freedman with the 2021 runners up, Alan Swinney (left) and Callum Dootson (right)
The 2021 shortlisted essayists


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