GSA Students’ Clean Sweep in The WriteStuff Competition

Students from GSA schools Wimbledon High School and Newcastle High School for Girls have won both categories in The Write Stuff 2017 competition. The runners-up include  a student from Norwich High School.

The competition is aimed at girls aged 11-16 who live in the UK and was launched in March. It asked girls to write a short, fictional story with a central theme of ‘family’.   The winners and runners-up were announced  on International Day of the Girl.  Run by the United Nations, the day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

Research by National Literacy Trust recently highlighted a sharp drop-off in creative writing among teenagers. The competition was set up in direct response to this, to reward storytelling and imaginative fiction and to encourage teenage girls to keep writing.

Hundreds of entries were received as part of the competition. A panel of judges, including Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE, The Sunday Times Editorial Director Eleanor Mills, Lynne Drew, Publishing Director, HarperCollins and Fiona Evans, National Literacy Trust, judged each story on its overall quality of writing; originality, imagination and creativity; sentence structure and language; and the writer’s ability to tell a story, capture the reader and hold their attention.

Category: 11-13

WINNER: Family by Eleanor Hetherington, 11, Wimbledon High School

RUNNERS-UP:    The Waiting by Tabitha Dryhurst, 12, Jane Austen College Norwich   and  Hula Hoop by Lucia Sammons, 12, The Bicester School

Category 14-16

WINNER: Mooncakes by Megan Leung, 14, Newcastle High School for Girls 

RUNNERS-UPUnder the Magnolia by Alice Quarterman, 15, Norwich High School  and  Lucy by Mia Galanti, 14, The Green School For Girls

The girls’ stories – along with six other finalists recognised by the judges – will be published in a free ebook called and will appeal to girls aged 11-16-years-old. The ebook will be published Friday 24 November 2017.   The winners, runners-up and finalists will be invited to take part in an exclusive writing master class at News UK London headquarters, hosted by HarperCollins and in partnership with Barbara Taylor Bradford and Sunday Times Editorial Director Eleanor Mills, in order to further develop their skills. This will take place at the end of November and coincides with the publication of Barbara’s 32nd novel, Secrets of Cavendon (HarperCollins) out Thursday 30 November 2017.  In addition, they will also each receive a box of books kindly donated by HarperCollins and an exclusive tour around The Sunday Times.

As well as writing her much-loved books, Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, an independent UK charity that transforms lives through literacy, and is passionate about empowering girls to write and let their voices be heard through their stories.  She says: “As a girl who got her first story published at the age of ten, I know how wonderful it is to be recognised for your writing talents at a young age.  I feel very passionate about encouraging this next generation of girls to get their voices heard through their writing and am delighted to help inspire a new generation of female writers and readers. 

“I was really impressed with this year’s entries. I was reading stories that had been written by very clever, young women who displayed their talent, imagination, and command of the English language.  

“This is the second time we have run this competition in partnership with The Sunday Times, with the support of my publishers HarperCollins and the National Literacy Trust, and I have to say the quality of writing was very impressive. I believe we have got an enormous amount of talented and dedicated girls out there and it’s time we recognised and celebrated them!  

“Some of the things that impressed me most were the thought, intelligence, and maturity which came to the fore in these stories. I want to say congratulations to everyone who entered, and I had a hard time selecting the winners because every story was so good.”  

Often described as the ‘First Lady of Female Fiction’ and ‘Queen of the Genre’, over 92 million books authored by Barbara Taylor Bradford have been sold to date.  They are published in over 40 languages and in more than 90 countries. Barbara’s books always feature women who drive to succeed in life, often overcoming adversities along the way.

Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director, The Sunday Times, adds: “I was thrilled and surprised by the quality of the entries, the imagination they showed and the deep understanding and exploration of the family brief from so many different points of view. The younger category was particularly strong. It’s been a great pleasure and honour to be a judge on the competition with Barbara Taylor Bradford who has always been a heroine of mine; I grew up on A Woman of Substance and her other novels.  I hope that this competition has inspired another generation of girls to get writing.”

The competition has also been supported by National Literacy Trust, HarperCollins, The Girls’ Day School Trust, Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS) and the Girls’ Schools Association.

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