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And the winner is...

Congratulation to 11-year-old Gracie Harding from Westgate School in Winchester, who has been named the winner of this year’s National Young Writers Awards! Lauren Child presented Gracie with her trophy at a surprise assembly at her school. You can read Gracie's winning story here

Gracie Harding with her trophy and medal


Our top ten finalists

You can find out who battled over 10,000 entries to make it into the final and read their excellent stories in our blog post...


Our judge for 2016...

Lauren Child

Lauren Child is a multi-award winning, bestselling writer and artist. She is the creator of much-loved characters including Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola, and has been at the forefront of innovation for 15 years, advocating visual literacy and the importance of quality books for children. We're thrilled that she is our judge for this year's competition!


Since launching eight years ago, tens of thousands of children have battled it out to be crowned the National Young Writer of the Year. Last year the competition attracted over 14,000 young writers from across the nation and this year’s theme of ‘The Mash-up’ is anticipated to attract more entries than ever before.  Children are encouraged to write no more than 500 words and tell stories that 'mash-up' two genres. This could see a spaceman transported to Roman times, an alien in the lost city of Atlantis or a Victorian gentleman in the outback!

Last year's winner, 12 year old Alex Boxall, has given some excellent top tips for budding writing champions - read his blog post here.

Previous judges of the creative writing competition have so far included some of the UK’s most prolific authors, like Cressida Cowell, Liz Pichon, Andy Cope, Jonathan Meres and Alan Durant and this year’s judge is none other than author of the hugely popular 'Charlie and Lola' and 'Ruby Redfort' series of books, Lauren Child. 

Terms and Conditions:

 1. The competition is open to all UK residents aged 14 years and under.

2. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 7th June 2016.

3. First prize is a 4 day break for 2 adults and 2 children to DisneyLand Paris, including travel and accommodation, to be taken before 1st June 2017.

4. The winning child’s school will also receive £500 worth of books, provided by Explore Learning.

5. The prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash.

6. The winner will be announced on 20th June 2016.

7. Winners must agree to participate in reasonable publicity and agree to publication of their names and entries.

8. Explore Learning accepts no responsibility for entries lost, damaged or delayed.

9. Entries cannot be returned.

10. The best entries will be published on the Explore Learning website.


How long should my story be?

You should aim to write no more than 500 words.

Is there an age limit for entrants?

We will accept entries from children aged 14 and under.

Where and when will the winner be announced?

The winner will be announced on Monday 20th June on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


I have sent in my story when will I hear back?

Explore Learning endeavours to call entries within two weeks to provide feedback on each story. This is dependant on the volume of entries we receive. If you have not been contacted and would like to speak to someone about your child’s story, please call the centre you sent your entry to. If you entered online, you can call our head office team on 01483 447414.

I can’t submit my entry - what should I do?

If you cannot upload your file you can copy and paste your story into the box on the 'enter the competition page'.

Need further help?

Please call your nearest centre for more information on the competition. If your child needs support writing their story book a time to attend our creative writing class. Follow us on social media for more updates and competitions.

We would like to invite you to enter this prestigious competition which has been designed to inspire children to write creatively and to reward talented young authors across the UK.

To enter your school in the competition book either a FREE assembly so the whole school can compete or a FREE workshop which we run with one class at a time.

Places are limited so please register as soon as possible to be in with the chance of one of your pupils being named ‘National Young Writer 2016’.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest centre. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


"The children really enjoyed it and were delighted to take their work home.  There was a good level of scaffolding involved that meant that even those with the poorest writing skills could still be involved."

V. Marsland, Head of Key Stage 1, Whitby Heath Primary School  


"The children were all highly motivated throughout the workshop.  This was because of the relevant nature of the task, an element of competition and good teaching."

Year 6 Teacher, Chidham Parochial Primary School



 Judged by best-selling author, Jonathan Meres, said:

"I know you’re probably all expecting me to say something about how incredibly high the standard of entries was and how impressed I’ve been with the quality of the writing. Because that’s the kind of stuff that judges always say. But I’m afraid that’s exactly what I am going to say. Well, I’m not afraid to say it. I’ve got to say it. Because it’s absolutely true. The standard of stories really has been exceptionally good, which on the one hand has made for some very entertaining reading for me, but on the other hand has made the task of choosing just one overall winner extremely difficult and frankly, almost impossible. But there can, as they say, only be one winner and so it gives me great pleasure to announce that 1st place in The National Young Writers Award 2015 goes to....That’s a wrap, by Alexander Boxall. Using some wonderfully descriptive and spine-tingling language, Alexander manages to convey a feeling of foreboding and suspense in a remarkably short space of time and still manages to pull off a cracking and most unexpected twist at the very end, that I doubt anyone will see coming. I certainly didn’t. So congratulations, Alexander. And well done to everyone else who entered, too. Whatever you do, keep on writing!”

That's a Wrap

by Alexander Boxall

Softly, silently, under cover of darkness, the gently lapping waters of the nearby, meandering stream, swelled. The level rapidly rising, its width, broadening. In blackened skies, only spears of moon beams pierced the gathering clouds. They bore witness to the rapidly increasing danger to those living in the isolated Mill cottage. Danny, his sister Hannah, dog Archie and their Mum had moved into their new home, a week earlier than planned. Mum said, she had made a helpful arrangement, we were too excited to ask what she meant. Semi-circular stone steps, which led to the front door, were hewn from the long since discarded Mill grinding stones. Double arched wooden front doors swung open on rusted, wrought iron, arrow shaped hinges. Beyond the mill house, were endless outbuildings. Some constructed from flint, others from wood. Most were in a seriously ramshackle or derelict state, now all held together by moss and a prayer! So much potential, thought Danny, to house all the pets he had longed to own. What better place for a budding Vet to start his menagerie of ducks, hens, lambs and ponies? This was their perfect ‘forever’ home. On a bright winter’s morning, the views from Danny’s window stretched over a rolling patchwork of farmland to the distant horizon. However, this night, as Danny closed his bedroom curtains, he could scarcely see the ground below there appeared a dark and unpredicted change in the weather. Jumping into bed, Danny pulled his duvet over his head, “a bad storm looming”, he thought as he snuggled down, eyes wide, ears listening hard. Rain and hail beat against the now rattling window panes. The aged wooden Mill wheel creaked and groaned and, after almost a century of turning, several loosened slats clattered loudly in the wild winds. Eventually, from staring into the blackness, his eyelids closed. Gusting, howling winds roared through every crevice of their house. Diagonally falling rain pounded the ground. Metal framed windows, long in need of repair, finally weakened by the relentless beating wind sent shards of glass across the room. Startled by the sound of breaking glass, Danny woke to his room filled with blue and white flashing lights. In panic, as he called for his mum, for Hannah, for anyone to help, he leapt from his bed, stumbling over his incomplete Lego models on the rug. His cries seemingly unheard, he peered through the broken window. A mix of rain and tears blurred his view. Above, a hovering helicopter turned away into the black night sky. Its bright searchlight diminished to a distant speck, its blue tail lights now barely visible. “and cut!”. The film crew gave a spontaneous round of applause. Hannah and Mum cheered, Archie bounded to smother his beloved friend in wet nosed kisses. “Brilliant job” boomed a commanding voice. It continued, “So glad your mum let us return to finish our filming Danny. We just needed that final rain scene. Hope you forgive us for not letting you in on our plan.”

Competition Entry sent

Thank you for entering the Young Writers' Awards. The winner will be announced online on 20th June 2016.

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