14-year-old Phoebe Harris from Lord Wandsworth College has been selected as the South East winner in a national writing competition and will see her futuristic poem based on the safety of the public, and the need for new laws, published in a brand-new book, released today, as part of Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale: Our Tomorrow writing competition.
In autumn 2021, learning company Pearson empowered children and young people between the ages of 4–19 to put pen to paper and write their own stories and poems of the future, compiling the winning entries in a brand-new book: My Twist on a Tale: Our Tomorrow, alongside a collection of audio stories being launched today.
The My Twist on a Tale: Our Tomorrow winners’ book and audio stories are being launched alongside new research, released today, which suggests fluent reading skills top the list of skills that South East teachers feel will give students the best chance of accessing a wide range of careers (72%), alongside spelling, grammar and punctuation skills (55%) and adapting their writing for different audiences (50%).
Scooping the award in the South East category, Phoebe’s work, A Twist in the Tale, was chosen alongside 16 other fantastic stories and poems written by children across the country, including A Mother’s Plea by South West winner Sophia Papasouliotis, Into the Blue by Key Stage 2 winner Veer Khanna, and New Atlantis by Northern Ireland winner Emma-Louise White.
Phoebe’s poem is set in 2051. A young girl and her mother discuss the need for her to tie up her hair. Not one to ask why, or why she should never walk alone at night, or why there is a stash of passports in various cupboards in the house, the girl plaits her hair and goes for a run. Ending up alone in an unfamiliar place, she is approached by a knife-wielding man with a sinister smile.
Running as fast as she can, the girl escapes his grasp as her plaits slip from his hand.
The moral of Phoebe’s story? Not every girl will or should tie their hair – and unless we change our tomorrow, and the outdated policies and laws that ensure the safety of everyone, threats against girls will continue to happen decades on from now.
Phoebe, who attends Lord Wandsworth College in Long Sutton, said: ‘I was delighted to be selected as a winner! Speaking out and stopping violence against women is something I have been passionate about for a very long time. I believe more people should be aware and de-normalise it. My character fails to question such attitudes, and this portrays society’s indifference. I chose poetry as poems are often short and choppy, and someone’s life can be changed dramatically in an instant if they suffer such abuse. Poetry seemed the best way to convey that!’
Over 1,200 school, sixth-form and college students entered the competition, unleashing their fortune-telling skills. 17 winning entries were picked across categories including KS1 through to KS5, and all regions in the UK. The resulting book, My Twist on a Tale: Our Tomorrow, is available to download on Pearson’s website, with all budding authors receiving their very own hard copy as part of their prize. Audio versions of each story have also been made available too!
Lindsay Nadin, Director of Primary at Pearson, said: ‘Phoebe should be extremely proud of the poem she has written. Her creativity and writing skills make her a worthy winner, alongside the 16 other young authors whose stories and poems ranged from earthlings zipping around on hoverboards, to the need for new laws to keep people safe.
‘At Pearson, we are committed to empowering schools to give their students different opportunities to excel, and develop essential skills needed for their futures. My Twist on a Tale allows us to encourage and excite young children with writing, motivating them to create work that represents their own perspectives of the world in which we live, and find joy in the written word. Everyone who submitted a story should be very proud of their creation.’
Deborah Maclaren, Director of Love Reading, said: ‘Phoebe’s poem is a cleverly constructed piece in which she builds conflict, and the tension ratchets as the story progresses. Its simplicity is wonderful and I was hooked from the start. The story serves as a warning, an allegory of what will occur in the future unless we make change happen; unless we twist the tale. Brilliant.’
The competition was supported by a range of partners including The Reading Agency, National Literacy Trust, Love Reading, Authors Aloud, Parentkind, Governor Cymru Services, Book Love, Bookmark, Gingerbread, Heady Mix and Coram Beanstalk.
To find out more about Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale: Our Tomorrow, and to download a copy of the book, please visit go.pearson.com/OurTomorrow or follow us on Twitter @PearsonSchools, Facebook @PearsonUnitedKingdom and Instagram @pearsonprimaryuk
See Lord Wandsworth College’s online listing here.