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The power of our voices

This year's winners of the Primary Poetry Prize are announced at live London final

Have you ever been in a recording studio? This month, the 20 finalists of this year's Primary Poetry Prize had the experience of the busy streets of Fitzrovia melting into dramatic silence, as they entered the booth at Voiceover Soho. Each of our finalists, chosen to represent their school with their skills in either poetry writing or reciting, were welcomed to London to record their voices for posterity. 

This year, we asked our pupils to write an ode 'in spirit, but not necessarily structure' and this led to heartfelt poems on subjects as diverse as parents, social media, and jelly. Our poetry recitalists had been working with material written by the likes of Benjamin Zephaniah, William Shakespeare, and Kae Tempest. Sound engineer Tom, encouraged all of our young people a little further out of their shells to give the best performances they possibly could. All whilst giving insight into how audio is recorded professionally. You can listen to the recordings at the bottom of this post.

In the recording studio - a child in school uniform stands in a soundproof booth wearing headphones and speaking into a microphone.

Isla from Woodlands Primary Academy performs her poem 'An ode to social media' in the recording booth at Voiceover Soho.

Then it was over to The Foundling Museum. Warming up our voices, and reminding us of the power of practice and bravery, was Danny Ladwa of the School of Beatbox. I think it's fair to say that all assembled were surprised at what their voices were capable of as Danny put us through our paces learning the basics of beatboxing. Finishing his workshop with a collaborative composition, using the voices of our pupils and a loop station, we all understood the power of our voices. Even when we're not using words.

A young child holds a microphone as beatboxer Danny helps her record sounds A group of young people in school uniform applaud and smile 

The second part of our grand final was a chance to hear the performances of our ten poetry recitalists. Performing in front of peers is no mean feat, and all our pupils deserve praise for their recitals. Praise is also due to our ten original poetry finalists, who showed great control of language. You can download a copy of the original poetry finalists' work here.

Beatboxer Danny joined the judging panel, together with Chief Executive Marc Jordan and Sam Davey, our cross-Trust Teaching and Learning Leader for English. As pupils explored the collections of the museum, the judges made their decisions.

For 2024, the following prizes were awarded

Winners of the Original Poetry Prize

  • William, Three Peaks: An Ode to Hamsters
  • Chloe, Wroughton: An ode to the people that fought
  • Commended: Ruby, Woodlands: An Ode to Parents

Winners of the Poetry Recitation Prize

  • Harry, Three Peaks: Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
  • Maddison, Harpfield: People Need People by Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Commended: Kai, Harpfield, and Andrei, Queen Eleanor

Winners took home a copy of the anthology collection A Poem for Every Day of the Year (compiled by Allie Esiri), but we hope all finalists took home feelings of pride and achievement. 

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Beatboxer Danny and a child in school uniform perform in The Foundling Museum

An impromptu beatbox duet in The Foundling Museum, between Danny Ladwa (School of Beatbox) and Blake (Wroughton Academies), is watched by Sam Davey, Marc Jordan, and Blake's classmates.