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Young Storytellers Take to the Stage for StorySLAM Semi-Finals

Young Storytellers Take to the Stage for StorySLAM Semi-Finals

Pupils from United Learning’s primary schools around the country competed last month for the Group’s two regional StorySLAM semi-finals.  

As part of the national story writing and storytelling competition, Years 5 and 6 pupils from across United Learning have been competing for a chance to represent the Group at the Young StorySLAM grand final at London’s Southbank Centre this February.

Pupils had been practising within their own schools throughout January with the aim of writing the best original stories and performing them to an audience within the three-minute time frame. Following this, they went head-to-head in two regional semi-finals held at Surbiton High School in Surrey and Cravenwood Primary Academy in Manchester.

The two semi-final days were packed with workshops on Building Story Worlds, Steering Language and SLAM Performance, before the performers took to the stage. Across the six competing schools – which also included Abbey Hey Primary Academy, High Hazels Academy, Rowan Preparatory School and Wilberforce Primary – the quality of stories and performances was impressive. The competition judges had the difficult task of choosing two overall winners to compete at the national grand final.

This year’s judges were:

  • Linda Heaver, United Learning Primary Trustee;
  • Ann Debono, Director of Primary Improvement at United Learning (southern semi-final);
  • Stuart Bird, Writer-in-residence at Surbiton High School;
  • Sarah Smart (northern semi-final).


On Tuesday 24th January, they picked Rihanna Collins from Abbey Hey Primary Academy as the winner of the northern semi-final and Hussain Dhamial from Cravenwood Primary Academy as runner-up. A special award was also given to Haseeb Syed from Cravenwood for ‘best line’ with his story.

On Wednesday 25th January, Erin Wallis from Surbiton High Girls’ Prep School was the overall winner of the southern semi-final, with Flora Harper from Rowan Preparatory School as runner-up. Rahmah Mutakabbir from Wilberforce Primary was also awarded the prize for ‘best line’.

The six winners and runners-up were awarded book vouchers to mark their achievements, with all pupils who took part in the semi-finals also receiving a StorySLAM badge to commemorate the event.

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

“For the second year running, we have championed StorySLAM as a fun and exciting way to get pupils at our primary schools devising, performing and enjoying stories. It is one of a number of enrichment opportunities for children and staff to meet and collaborate, and one which is particularly valued.

“I would like to congratulate all our pupils who took part in our Group semi-finals, as well as those who I know have been practising in their own schools over the past weeks. In particular, I am delighted for our two overall winners, Erin and Rihanna, and we wish them all the best for the national final this month.”

Abbey Hey Primary Academy pupil Rihanna, who won the northern semi-final, said:

“I felt really nervous before performing, even after practicing with Mr Bird. When performing, I forgot about the audience and enjoyed sharing my good work.

“When I won, I was so happy! I couldn't stop smiling, although I felt a bit sorry for everyone else as they'd done such a good job.”

Erin, from Surbiton High Girls’ Prep School, said of winning the southern semi-final:

”I am shocked because I never thought I would make it this far! My story took a lot of planning; starting with a basic idea, then editing until it was the best it could be.

“When I read it out to the class I felt so proud. Everyone gave me a boost of confidence because I was really nervous.

“Now I know I’m going to the Southbank there is a lot of pressure, but knowing my friends are there will help me stay calm and do my Surbiton best!”




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