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 each essay entry judged by, a noted academic and/or influencer, renowned in their field of expertise.
  • Students receive World Class feedback on their entry from the independent competition judge and 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 schools’ 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 2019 essay writing competition

This year’s essay competition title was set and judged by Dr. Philip Knox, University Lecturer in Medieval Literature, Faculty of English, Cambridge University. He is one of the editors of New Medieval Literatures, an annual of work on medieval textual cultures. He is the author of Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry, Hypothesis and Experience in the European Middle Ages. He was state educated in Northern Ireland.

We had a fantastic 95 essays submitted from World Class secondary, primary, special and international school students UK wide. We are very grateful to Daisy Kemp and Alice Medforth, English teachers at Tolworth Girls’ School, for reading and shortlisting all the essays received.

The shortlisted essay writers, winners and honourable mentions, received the WCSQM Essay Award and commendations at our Awards Ceremony on Friday 13th December 2019, at Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge University. In addition, part of the students’ prize will was an invitation to Cambridge University for a tour with Philip personally. Winners and their essays can be found below.


The challenge

My own research focuses on the literature and culture of the medieval period and I’ve always been interested in how changes in culture and society come about. Human societies are always changing, but sometimes those changes happen more quickly and have larger effects. I think that today we are living through a period of change and we are asking new questions about how, if at all, we as individuals can affect those changes. Thinking about history might be able to help us with these questions, although the present-day is offering new challenges.

Philip Knox

In a speech to the United Nations last year, the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, then aged 15, said that “We can’t change the world by playing by the rules.”

The essay question: Does breaking the rules change the world?

The 2019 winner and honourable mentions

We have thoroughly enjoyed the judging process and were impressed with the high standard of entries – it was difficult to decide on a top 10! We believe the shortlisted essays offer a diverse, original selection of interpretations and are all written to an excellent standard.

Daisy Kemp and Alice Medorth, Teachers of English at Tolworth Girls’ School

The Joint essay competition winners are…

Agnes Sykes-Whateley, King Ecgbert School

Read Agnes’ essay

Eedie Baker-Thompson, Forest Gate Community School

Read Eedie’s essay

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 this year’s competition were invited to join Phil Knox for a workshop

All students submitting an essay into this year’s 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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