Pupils have been submitting entries into the Wicked Writers: Be the Change competition in a bid to win a workshop and a theatre visit. Here are the winners. 

Wicked Writers competitions winners 2024

From top left clockwise: Sebastian Kesley, Arthur Stock, Samsritha Vakani and Luo Chen He have all won a school visit for their peers to see Wicked in London.

This year’s theme was the environment, and 1,600 children across the UK have made their voices heard about the issues they are passionate about including climate change, earth and sea pollution, as well as animal extinction. 

The winner in the 9-11 age group was Sebastian Kesley, 10, from Hiltingbury Junior School in Hampshire who wrote a thoughtful first-person story about the impact of plastic in the ocean on marine life from the perspective of the ocean itself.

Arthur Stock, 10, from Stanford Junior School in Brighton was the runner-up in this category. He wrote a moving and informative piece about a lonely turtle caught in a plastic bag, with tips at the end for how people can help to reduce plastic pollution.

Cast members on stage performing in Wicked the musical.

Source: Matt Crockett

The story of Wicked covers key themes that can help pupils explore their own mental wellbeing.

The winner in the 11-14 age group was Luo Chen He, 13, from Co-op Academy in Stoke-on-Trent who impressed the judges with a creative tale about the importance of activism and the struggle to change the world.

Samsritha Vakani, 14, from West Bromwich Collegiate, 14, was the runner-up in the older age category with a poem about planet Earth’s two potential futures – one positive and bright, and one destroyed without intervention.

All four students won whole-class or writing group trips to see Wicked in London, and Luo and Sebastian have also bagged their classes a workshop with judge M. G. Leonard (Beetle Boy and the Adventures on Trains series), where they will learn how to craft a great persuasive essay or story, and tips on making their voice and passion heard.

The other judges were English teacher, writer, and presenter of Holly’s Classroom, Holly King-Mand; Michael McCabe, executive producer of Wicked in the UK and Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.

Wicked musical's new cast 2023

Source: Matt Crockett

The four lucky pupils will now get the chance to see the show at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Tim Judge, head of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We have been blown away by the amount of impassioned, persuasive essays and stories submitted by pupils this year on the environment. Writing can be great for young people’s wellbeing and this competition shows pupils how they can use their literacy skills to have their voices heard on issues they care about.”

M. G. Leonard, judge, and award-winning children’s author, added: “It was a profound privilege to get to read such a wonderful mix of wildly creative and persuasive pieces of writing from so many young people.

“The standard of the writing and the passion with which they wrote about the environment made it almost an impossible task to judge this prize. I have found it a humbling and hopeful experience because the concern and care for the natural world is crystal clear in their artfully chosen words.”

The 2024 Wicked Writers: Be The Change writing competition is a collaboration between the National Literacy Trust and the stage musical Wicked, as part of its Wicked Active Learning cultural and social education programme.

For more information about school visits to see Wicked, go to wickedactivelearning.co.uk.