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The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) is the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools and has been proudly delivered by the Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. 

The competition seeks to introduce young people to the idea of writing for fun, developing key literacy skills and working to increase academic attainment. Through its promotion of literacy and writing skills, the competition contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in over 60 countries and territories and encourages the global awareness of all participants.

Each year, young people write on a theme that stems from the Commonwealth’s values and principles. Recent themes have focused on the environment, inclusion, the role of youth leadership, and gender equality. Their pieces drew out innovative ideas for positive change and encouraged young people to consider new perspectives.

Past winners have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including the Prime Minister of Singapore, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the renowned author, the late Elspeth Huxley CBE.

To mark the 50th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Commonwealth Heads of Government declared 2023 a year dedicated to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development. Young people were asked to explore the power they hold within the global community and how it can be harnessed to make a meaningful impact in the world.

This year, many of our pupils were open to opportunities and participated in this competition, writing on the theme of ‘A Youth-Powered Commonwealth’. Pupils used prompts to interpret the theme various ways, writing about ideas such as ‘acts of heroism’, ‘why your voice matters’ and even writing the script for a dialogue between two people who are divided not only by generation, but their opinions on a specific matter.

This provided ample challenge for our pupils’ intellectual curiosity and the English Department was astounded by the level of engagement, as well as the standard of work produced. Led by Ms Ives, our entries were sent off in anticipation of much success and we were not disappointed.

WHSB managed to win 10 bronze medals, 7 silver medals and 2 gold. To have 19 of our pupils commended in this way – out of over 140,000 globally – is an unprecedented success and evidences the power our pupils’ voices have around the world. The School is exceptionally proud of the pupils’ achievements and we would like to thank Miss Bailey and her colleagues in the English Department for their commitment and support to the pupils.  We look forward to more success when we enter again next year.