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Young storytellers shine in StorySLAM competition

1,000 primary pupils showcase their creativity as part of annual storytelling competition

This half-term, pupils from across United Learning’s primary schools went head-to-head in the annual StorySLAM competition to be named best storyteller.

The competition takes inspiration from a similar event that took place at the Southbank Centre in London and challenges children to write original short stories and perform them in front of their peers, teachers and judges. This year, the competition – conducted entirely virtually – was met with its highest level of engagement to date, with an impressive 1000 pupils from 20 of the Group’s primary schools taking part.

Throughout January, schools ran their own StorySLAM events and each selected a winning pupil who submitted a recording of their performance to the national StorySLAM competition. From these high-quality entries, United Learning had the challenging task of choosing only nine finalists whose virtual performances went before the esteemed panel of five judges. The panel included:

  • Sarah Holding, full-time author of popular children’s works that include “SeaBEAN, The Trilogy” and “CHAMELEON”
  • Neal Zetter, London-based poet, author and entertainer who runs the successful Confidence in Communication through Comedy Poetry workshops 
  • Stuart Bird, Writer In Residence at Surbiton High School
  • Karen Tulloch, United Learning Primary English Advisor
  • Jennifer Reynolds, United Learning Primary English Advisor

On Thursday 4th February, the judges joined together virtually to watch and discuss the shortlisted performances. After much deliberation, the panel selected this year’s three StorySLAM winners who were praised for their imagination and expression.

Elisa from Longshaw Primary Academy took home the prize for ‘Overall Best Story’ with her piece “My Power”. Speaking of Elisa’s performance, the judges said:

We loved the way Elisa told the story, we loved the setting in which she told it, the references to authors and writing within the story and the fact it was about the world today with a wonderful twist at the end.”

‘Runner Up’ was awarded to Ziyad from Hanwell Fields Community School for his story “The Snow Dragon”. Praising Ziyad’s work, the judges said:

We thought that Ziyad used beautiful language and the way that he told the story was very engaging and drew us in. He used his voice brilliantly and his face was very expressive. We thought it felt like a modern fairy tale and any illustrator would love to work on it.”

Finlay from Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School won the prize for ‘Best Line’ with his story “The Photo”. Commenting on Finlay’s writing, the judges said:

“These two particular lines stood out from Finlay’s story: “Her disturbing smile held a thousand trapped souls inside” and “a sense of corruption flew over me like a murder of crows”. We really enjoyed the imagery in these lines and it was beautiful to listen to.”

The remaining six finalists, who deserve a special mention for their fantastic efforts, were Charlotte from Ashford School, Freya from Surbiton High Girls’ Preparatory School, Harezo from Wilberforce Primary School, Inayah from High Hazels Academy, Robyn from Corngreaves Academy and Samuel from AKS Lytham.

To commend their involvement, all participants will receive a certificate and a StorySLAM 2021 badge. The three winners will be presented with a Kindle, as well as books from judges Sarah and Neal.

Darran Ellison-Lee, Director of Primary Education at United Learning, said:

“Our StorySLAM event is something I know our pupils look forward to each year so it was fantastic to see so many of them take part in our 2021 competition. Now more than ever, we want to make sure we’re delivering an Education with Character to all our pupils. This means, alongside academic learning, giving them access to collaborative events like this where they can inspire each other as they develop their creativity and confidence. Well done to all pupils who took part, and of course, special congratulations to our exceptional winners.”

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Posted: Mar 19, 2021,
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