Orwell Youth Prize workshop and competition
Last month six Year 9 students had the opportunity to take part in The Orwell Youth Prize Workshop. This was the first time that this event was held online and despite the virtual element it was a hugely engaging and rewarding experience.
The workshop began with a ‘wonder walk’, where we went down to the river and the students were asked to take a photograph of something that inspired awe and something that they were concerned about. They took some excellent photographs – boats, swans, trees, rubbish – and shared their ideas eloquently with the other schools online.
Professional writer, Dee Jarrett-Macauley, shared her writing and experiences with the group. She was an inspiring speaker and she enjoyed answering the questions the students put to her about her life and work. The students also explored George Orwell’s work of course, and our Year 9s made some wonderful observations and comments – which may have been somewhat daunting considering most of the students from the other schools were in Year 11. They were able to showcase their own group writing – describing their favourite meal and Dee chose a winner. Although we were not victorious, the students had fun and wrote some hilariously descriptive pieces – full of puns and imagery – about steak, sausages and chocolate brownies.
The day also involved some serious group discussion and proposals for how to combat problems in society. The students identified the sexualisation of young people in society as an issue. They discussed ways to address this issue in the media and in communities. They agreed that one of the best ways to combat negative material online is for parents to become more educated and aware of it and for students to try to engage more in positive community activities – sports groups, drama clubs and other extra-curricular activities.
The students also enjoyed the personal reflective aspect of the day. They spent time thinking about things that were important to them and they were given the opportunity to begin drafting a piece of writing for the competition. The students who attended the course were also given the opportunity to submit drafts and get feedback before the final deadline.
Thank you to Miss E Martin for organising this wonderful event for us here at TWBS and of course to the Orwell Foundation and TVLP.
It is not too late for any other budding writers to enter this prestigious competition – and it is not just available to Year 9. So, students in Year 11 especially who are missing school already could also whip up a piece of writing too!