Schools Poetry Competition

In collaboration with the Centre for New Writing, Creative Manchester ran the University's fourth Schools Poetry Competition in 2020. The theme was Climate, and entries were received from school pupils across Greater Manchester.

From 21 March 2020 to 1 July 2020

Partners: Centre for New Writing

The Schools Poetry Competition has been running annually since 2017. It is aimed at pupils from five Greater Manchester schools within The Education and Leadership Trust, and it encourages children to use poetry as a means of self-expression.

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Each year, school pupils are invited to draft poems relating to a particular theme, with this year’s theme being Climate. After the initial drafts are submitted, PhD students from the University of Manchester deliver poetry clinics wherein the pupils redraft their poems. Pupils then submit their finished poems to the competition for a chance to win prizes.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of schools, we realised that the usual model of the competition was not viable this year. We were adamant, however, that supporting pupils’ wellbeing and creative engagement was more important than ever.

We resolved to tweak the formula of the competition, whilst striving to maintain the school pupils’ experience. Our PhD students’ flexibility was invaluable here. Rather than delivering physical poetry clinics, they kindly agreed to provide a detailed and thoughtful written critique for each pupil who submitted a poem.

Though fewer schools were able to participate in this year’s School Poetry Competition, we were blown away by the quantity and quality of the entries received. Led by Professor of Poetry, John McAuliffe, an esteemed panel of judges awarded one overall school prize and several year group prizes to pupils from Whalley Range High School, Levenshulme High School, The East Manchester Academy and Burnage Academy. All 13 of the winning poems are being showcased on the Centre for New Writing’s website.