FREE 500-word
story writing competition

The Explore Learning Writers’ Awards

For the past twelve years, Explore Learning have been inspiring children to write, from the young authors in the making to those a little more reluctant.

The competition for 2020 has now ended.


How to get involved

Get inspired

Take a look at our FREE writing resources to help you plan your story.

Enter online

Submit your story online before the deadline on the 28th October 2020.

Stay tuned

Together with Greg James we will be selecting a winner from KS1, KS2 and KS3.
Find out more.

What is the competition about?

We’ve all been through a lot this year, but we’ve also all had an opportunity to spend more time together and find out more about ourselves as people.  About what makes us magical. 

We’re inviting children across the UK aged 4-14 to pen a 500-word story around the theme of ‘Hidden Talents’.  Everybody has a talent, anyone can be a writer. 

Deadline to enter – 28th October 2020

Our guest judge: Greg James!

Introducing legendary Radio DJ, presenter and children’s author
Greg James as the official judge!

Greg has co-written the incredible series – ‘Kid Normal’, a laugh-out loud adventure story of Murph Cooper, who comes to realise that he doesn’t need an extraordinary super power to be cool.

Greg understands that talents come in all different shapes and forms, so when we were looking for our 12th year Explore Learning Writers’ Awards judge, we couldn’t think of anybody better for this year’s theme, ‘Hidden Talents’.

“Hidden Talents is a brilliant theme for this year’s Explore Learning Writers Awards. Whenever I meet young readers, I love finding out what secret skills or knowledge they have. Our characters in the Kid Normal series are full of surprises and I’m always amazed at how wild and fearless our reader’s imaginations are too. My advice for this competition is to let your mind run wild, there’s no such thing as an idea that’s too silly or fantastical. Writing is one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your brain, so… have fun!”

Greg James

We’re delighted to announce that this year’s theme is ‘Hidden Talents’

Why have we chosen this theme? 

  • We see it as a way to bring out some positives from the experience of lockdown.
  • Being at home more during the lockdown period, without the opportunity to attend school, meant that children from all over the UK were likely to have spent their time doing different things to normal, and may have found a hidden talent along the way!
  • Perhaps you were encouraged to pick up a musical instrument, write a story or maybe you have just been getting better with household chores and helping out your family.
  • We want to champion the fact that anybody could be sat on an amazing ability, they just perhaps haven’t uncovered it as of yet!

What are we looking for?

Whilst spelling, punctuation and grammar are of course important, Explore Learning Writers’ Awards were invented to encourage children from across the UK to be creative.

We want you to hang up those bugbears that come with trying to perfect a piece of writing, and instead let your imagination run wild.  We’re not looking for the best spelling bee, or the most efficient proof-reader.  We’re looking for storytelling talent, a narrative that grips us and for an incredible hidden talent to be discovered by your character!







Looking for writing inspiration?

Once your imagination kicks in, your creative flow will be unstoppable!

You might need to believe your friends and family when they tell you that you are great at something or think about things that you love doing or things that come naturally to you.

It’s time to unearth your hidden talent by trying new things!  You may be surprised at what secret skills you possess.  Maybe you can speak multiple languages or ride a unicycle!


Top tips to get started

Your story can either be fictionally about yourself, or you can create an inspirational character.

For example, you could tell us a story about a spaceman whose talent is baking cherry pies that grant wishes!

Create a mind map
with words or pictures
to show all the talents
that you have. 

Think about what makes
a talent special and unique
to you or your character?

How could you use
this talent to create
new opportunities?


Check out our free writing resources
to help plan your character,
setting and story!

Your chance to win a tech bundle worth over £2000

With the help of our guest judge Greg James, we will be selecting 1 winner from each group: KS1 (P2-3), KS2 (P4-7) and KS3 (S1-3).  From these 3, we will select the overall winner of the Explore Learning Writers’ Awards. 

Each Key Stage winner
will receive:


An iPad – 10.2-inch, Wi-Fi, 32GB, 

Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard for your iPad

PLUS £250 each towards their very own experience day

The Competition Winner of Explore
Learning Writers’ Awards will
also receive:

An additional £750 towards an experience day of your choosing.

A 13-inch MacBook Pro

A surprise school appearance from a very special guest

PLUS £500 worth of books for your school!


All entries will also get a certificate to congratulate them on their participation, signed by Greg James himself! 

Calling all teachers!

A chance to win £500 worth of books for your school!

We are inviting all schools to take part in the Explore Learning Writers’ Awards this year. Whilst we are currently unable to offer workshops due to Covid restrictions, we are continuing to offer the opportunity for one of your pupils to win £500 worth of books for your school plus a surprise virtual assembly hosted by a very special guest.

Why get involved? 

  • Great for inspiring even the most reluctant writers
  • Gives your class an alternate way to express themselves through story writing
  • A chance to share some positives after the challenging year they’ve faced so far. 

How to get your school involved

All pupils have to do is enter their 500-word story online by the 28th October for a chance to win incredible prizes!

Don’t worry, we’ve got your school covered with all the resources you will need.  And they’re completely FREE!

Meet our previous winners

2019 Winner – Farrah

Congratulations to a 9-year-old Farrah Lucas from Haslingfield Primary School was named the Explore Learning Writer of 2019!

The Haslingfield Primary School pupil was surprised in a school assembly by non other than TV star, author, dancer and singer, Alesha Dixon who judged the competition.  Alesha and the team from Expore Learning presented her with first prize – a family trip to Disneyland Paris!  Farrah’s school was also awarded £500 worth of books for all the students to enjoy.  Farrah won The Explore Learning Writers’ Awards 2019 with her beautiful, emotional story titled ‘Masking the Problem’.

Read Farrah’s winning story

2018 Winner – Mia

Congratulations also to 8-year-old Mia Falatoori from Churchfields Junior School in London who was crowned the winner of our National Young Writers’ Awards 2018!

David Walliams, our 2018 judge, said, “I picked Mia’s story because it really made me laugh.  I love funny stories and this is one of the funniest pieces of writing I have read in ages.  The images that are painted in your head when you read it are hilarious – I only wish I had written it myself!  I am sure this winning writer will be a big success and a wonderful writer for children one day if she wants to be!”
Mia penned a hilarious tale titled ‘The Mum with the Toxic Bum!’

Read Mia’s winning story

Blogs you might like:

Mia Falatoori, Young Writer of the Year with mum and David Walliams

Young Writer of the Year: A mum's perspective

Read this post

10 questions with David Walliams

10 questions with David Walliams

Read this post

Alesha Dixon

Getting to know Alesha Dixon

Read this post

Alesha Dixon with Explore Learning Writer of the Year Farrah

Alesha Dixon surprises the Explore Learning Writer of the Year!

Read this post

Explore Learning writer's awards: 2019

Writer of the Year 2019: Top 10 stories announced!

Read this post

Writing at home inspiration - notepad and pen

How parents can help with writing at home

Read this post

Writing at home tips - book with heart bookmark

Top tips for writing at home

Read this post

The top 10 young writers' stories

The top 10 young writers' stories

Read this post

Top ten National Young Writers' entries!

Top ten National Young Writers' entries!

Read this post

National Young Writers' Awards logo

Amazing regional winners of our writing competition!

Read this post

Happy girl reading a book

Reading for pleasure: inspiring children to read

Read this post

Students practicing their 11 Plus vocabulary with an Explore tutor

11 Plus vocabulary - How to build a rich vocabulary

Read this post