The writing competition, devised by the stage musical Wicked and the National Literacy Trust, will inspire school children to get creative. 

Wicked the musical

Source: Matt Crockett

Students aged nine to 14 will be asked to write a piece of persuasive writing about any environmental issue that is important to them, for example the climate crisis, pollution or about an endangered species. 

Now in its second year, Wicked Writers: Be the Change is based on the song from the Wicked musical, For Good, which is about making a positive change. 

Beginning on Monday 29th January, the competition is open to all UK schools and includes a full set of learning resources combining engaging persuasive writing lesson plans and content to inspire students. The closing date for entries is 11th March and there are a range of prizes for winners, runners-up and shortlisted students. 

“Stories are powerful. They are capable of changing minds, changing hearts and changing people.”

Author M. G. Leonard

Writing as an “empowering experience”

In 2023, almost half of the children who took part in the first Be the Change writing competition chose, of their own accord, to use their entry to advocate for the environment and their planet.

Wicked the Musical, London

Source: Matt Crockett

The production’s Wicked Active Learning programme supports curriculum enrichment, personal development and learning outside the classroom. 

Tim Judge, head of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust said: “We have been hugely inspired by last year’s young activists and have chosen to dedicate this year’s competition entirely to the environment, which is clearly a matter of huge importance to children and young people today.

“Be the Change is all about listening to children’s voices and showing them that writing can be an empowering experience that makes a difference in their world.”

In 2023, research from the National Literacy Trust found that more children and young people who had taken part in writing competitions reported that they enjoyed writing and wrote daily in their free time compared with those who didn’t enter a competition. 

Entries and judging for the Wicked competition

This year’s judging panel includes teacher-influencer Holly King-Mand, Wicked executive producer Michael McCabe and National Literacy Trust CEO Jonathan Douglas CBE. And joining the panel this year is best-selling author M. G. Leonard, who wrote Beetle Boy, the Adventures on Trains’ mystery series, and The Twitchers wildlife detectives. Her latest book, The Ice Children, was published in November 2023; in addition she is one of the founding authors of Authors4Oceans, with Lauren St John, campaigning to reduce single-use plastics. 

Author M. G. Leonard who's a judge for the Wicked: Be the Change writing competition

Best-selling author M. G. Leonard, well known for Beetle Boy, the Adventures on Trains’ mystery series, and The Twitchers wildlife detectives, joins the judging panel for this year’s competition.

M. G. Leonard said: “Stories are powerful. They are capable of changing minds, changing hearts and changing people. When I was a girl, The Secret Garden opened a door in my imagination and on the other side was wildlife of all kinds. Writing Beetle Boy cured my lifelong phobia of insects and turned me into a bug conservationist. Reading and writing really can shape a person of any age. Every child should know the transformative pleasure of creating their own stories. It’s a way of expressing and exorcising worries and hopes for the future.”

Entries will be judged in two age categories: nine-11 and 11-14. 

All 16 shortlisted pupils will see their work published in an anthology and receive a bundle of new books for their school. Winners and runners-up will receive class tickets to see the acclaimed musical Wicked at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, with the two winning pupils also receiving writing workshops in their schools with judge M. G. Leonard.

Michael McCabe, executive producer of Wicked in the UK, said: “In launching the second year of our Wicked Writers: Be the Change’ schools competition, we’re proud to continue our partnership with the National Literacy Trust and assist in promoting literacy in the UK. We’re especially pleased that this year’s competition is focusing on the environment, providing a vital platform for young people to express their concerns and ideas for the future.”

Teachers and EVCs can register their interest and receive updates about the competition at