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Power to the People

The final event for our annual cross-Trust Sixth Form Prizes saw impassioned speeches from eight of our exceptional young people, and rewarded two students for their public speaking and essay writing prowess.

To speak and write with authority and confidence is a skill we value at Creative Education Trust. With help from our partners at the Speakers TrustRoyal Literary Fund and Kalisher Trust, we're supporting our sixth-form students to be the best they can be.

Learning the writing process

We start the Essay Prize with writing workshops delivered by fellows from the Royal Literary Fund, available to all year 12 students in our sixth forms. This year over 200 students benefited from this opportunity. Following this we invite students to write and submit 1,500-word essays on a subject of their choice. We received essays on a wide range of issues; from intersectional feminism, to the rise of MAGA, to sanitation problems in Ghana.

Each of our entrants received a 30-minute tutorial from a professional writer and the opportunity to submit a second draft, before a shortlist of 13 essays was announced. This year's finalists were: Christopher and Twinkle, Abbeyfield School; Grace, Hannah, Jayden, Natalia and Simran, Ash Green School; Alana and Brooke, The Hart School, Alicia, Brooke and Samuel, Weavers Academy; and Favour, Wrenn School.         

Our finalists submitted a third and final draft for consideration by the Essay Prize judging panel: British science journalist, Anjana Ahuja; literary translator, Sarah Ardizzone; playwright and theatre critic, Kate Bassett; children's author and creative writing tutor, Harriet Goodwin; and Supernumerary Fellow in Classics at Brasenose College, Oxford, Jonathan Katz.

Raising their voices

Each year of the Public Speaking Prize, we give a theme for our sixth-formers to address. This year, the prompt was 'Power to the People'. Invited to write a speech of up to ten minutes in length, and to prepare for questions from the panel and audience at the live final.

Students this year had extra support with the help of a virtual public speaking workshop with the Speakers Trust, followed by one-to-one coaching provided by barristers and trainee barristers of the Kalisher Trust. Coaching sessions supported students to improve both content and delivery of their speeches, 

This was a great opportunity to develop my public speaking skills - my session [with the Kalisher Trust barrister] was very useful.

 2023 sixth form public speaking prize participant


Following coaching nine finalists were chosen for the final live event, held at St Mary's Guildhall Coventry.

Our finalist Public Speakers for 2023 are: Grace and Sharnelle, Abbeyfield School; Jasmine, Ash Green School; Grace and Wren, The Hart School; Penny and Samuel, Weavers Academy; and Akua and Pippa, Wrenn School.

Our finalist essay writers and public speakers in the Great Hall of St Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

Showing us how it's done

This year we were delighted to be joined by Councillor Sharon Thompson, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council (below, left). Sharon told the assembled students about her journey, from homeless teenager to elected councillor and champion for social change. Sharon urged our students to make our world a more equal and fairer place, to use their voices, and to not pull up the ladder behind them.


Joining Cllr Thompson on the 2023 Public Speaking Prize judging panel were Abbie Rumbold, Chair of the Board of Directors for Creative Education Trust, John Dunston, Director of Education for Kalisher Trust, Toni Bailey, Creative Education Trust Director of SEND and Richmund Rosales, Abbeyfield School alum and winner of the 2018 Sixth Form Essay Prize.

The results are in

We are pleased to offer congratulations to Jasmine Miller of Ash Green School, who won this year's Public Speaking Prize, with her address on race from the perspective of 'the Black girl at the back of the classroom'. We are also delighted to congratulate Natalia Tkocz, also of Ash Green School, this year's Essay Prize winner, for her classy essay on The Hunger Games which the judges agreed was 'beautifully structured and sophisticated'.

We look forward to seeing where Jasmine and Natalia's ways with words take them. We're sure it's somewhere wonderful.


This is just one of many co-curricular opportunities offered to pupils in Creative Education Trust schools. Find out about our other cross-Trust enrichment activities.