StorySLAM is an annual competition delivered by United Learning which encourages pupils in Years 5 and 6 to develop their creativity, imagination and confidence – a key part of what it means to deliver an Education with Character. The competition takes inspiration from a similar event that originated in New York and challenges children to write original stories and perform them in front of their peers, teachers, and judges.
To mark the first stage of the competition, pupils at each school created and honed their stories before performing them during exciting in-school finals. Winners were then selected to progress to their regional StorySLAM final, hosted by Coworth Flexlands Prep School and Nursery in the south and William Hulme’s Grammar School in the north. For those schools unable to attend, pupils instead took part in a virtual StorySLAM final.
At the in-person events, pupils first enjoyed a writing and confidence-boosting performance workshop, led by children’s author Sarah Holding, where they were able to develop their creative writing techniques and share their character and plot ideas with each other. They also learnt some top tips on how to best deliver their story, what they can do to engage an audience, and how to channel any nerves into excitement.
After a day of fun and educational workshops, pupils put what they had learnt into practice by giving a final performance of their story. From the array of imaginative tales, the panel of judges had the difficult task of crowning winners for the three top awards – ‘Overall Winner’, ‘Runner Up’ and ‘Best Line’.
The winners of the northern StorySLAM final were:
- Overall Winner – Iris, William Hulme’s Grammar School
- Runner Up – Maryam, Cravenwood Primary Academy
- Best Line – Aneeqa, Abbey Hey Primary School
“I was very inspired by Sarah, the author who came to visit – I’m definitely going to read her books!”
The winners of the southern StorySLAM final were:
- Overall Winner – Zuleika, Ashford School
- Runner Up – Kinvara, The Royal School
- Best Line – Lamine, Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School
To decide the winners of the virtual competition, individual school champions were asked to share a video recording of their performance with StorySLAM organisers which were put before the panel of judges. The winning pupils were announced via bespoke videos on social media featuring encouraging feedback from Sarah.
The winners of the virtual StorySLAM final were:
- Overall Winner – Kathryn, AKS Lytham
- Runner Up – Fegor, Lincoln Minster School
- Best Line – [Sakanh], Wilberforce Primary School
To celebrate their achievements, the winning pupils received a certificate and several books. All StorySLAM finalists will also see their stories published in the United Learning StorySLAM 2022 Anthology. Copies will be sent to the school finalist and to the school at the end of the spring term.
Speaking about the initiative, one teacher from Dukesgate Academy said:
“Our children were made to feel valued as writers and they enjoyed working and interacting with peers from other schools.”
Sarah Holding, children’s author and StorySLAM judge, said:
“I've heard some incredible pieces of writing and been thoroughly impressed by Years 5 and 6 pupils' willingness to perform and engage an audience. So much raw talent had been nurtured and brought to a level of excellence. Congratulations to all our finalists and especially to this year’s winners!”
Darran Ellison-Lee, Director of Primary Education at United Learning, said:
“Well done to all pupils who took part in this year’s StorySLAM competition and, in particular, to our exceptional winners. Given the many challenges pupils have faced over the last two years, it is very important to us that we are offering them interactive and exciting opportunities like this where they can join together – either in person or virtually – and which bring their learning to life. I was delighted to see the children showing such creativity and confidence in their storytelling and I know all of us are very much looking forward to reading the StorySLAM 2022 Anthology once published.”