Final chance to enter a very special children's writing competition...

The deadline for the 'Be Inspired' children's writing competition is fast approaching - March 31st, 2011.  If you're a school supporting children with special educational needs then this writing competition might just provide a little extra dose of motivation.

Be Inspired…

Back in the Autumn, Michael Morpurgo OBE (the former Children's Laureate) in conjunction with Walker Books and RM Education helped launch a very special children's writing competition at The Unicorn School, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

The competition is called 'Be inspired' and is the brainchild of The Unicorn School, which enables girls and boys with dyslexia and associated difficulties to achieve their full potential.

The Motivation

The motivation for the competition came from a group of children and staff at the school who discovered one of the author's classic stories called, 'I Believe in Unicorns', which is about a reluctant young reader who is inspired by a librarian who tells spellbinding stories.

Mr Morpurgo said: "This competition is not about perfect spelling and presentation; it is about storytelling and 'having a go' and having the courage to find your own unique voice. I need to keep in close touch with the world about me, by meeting people, going places, by looking, by reading, hearing, feeling, by drinking in the world around me. This is what the judges will be looking for in the Be Inspired competition."

Jackie Vaux, head teacher at The Unicorn, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, said: "Dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties can be helped significantly and the aim of this competition is to highlight the positive. Many of the brightest and most creative people suffer from dyslexia and it should not be used as a label to stop achieving. With early intervention in a caring environment, children can learn strategies to cope and succeed."

Terry Sweeney, CEO of RM Education said: "I am delighted that RM is supporting this unique competition. Inclusion is at the heart of RM's philosophy and as a partner to education we create innovative solutions that help schools deliver inspiring and engaging teaching and learning. I am looking forward to reading the competition entries, which I'm sure will leave me feeling inspired."

Entering the Competition

Children are asked to do one of the following:

  1. write a story called 'Be inspired', which should be about something or somebody that has inspired them to learn something, do something or encouraged them to achieve more that they thought was possible.  For example, they could write about a teacher / mummy / daddy / grandparent / friend who has given them time, helped them to achieve something new or encouraged them to keep on with the activity that was different; or
  2. write a book review about a book that has inspired them to take up a hobby or work harder at a pastime or school work; or
  3. write about a celebrity that has inspired them to work harder at achieving their goals e.g. 'David Beckham inspired me to become a better footballer or Darcy Bussell inspired me to be a better dancer.'

Age categories and word count

  1. For ages 6 – 8 (no longer than 400 words)
  2. For ages 9 – 11 (no longer than 800 words)
  3. For ages 12 – 13 (no longer than 1000 words)

Entries may be accompanied by illustrations, but these will not be taken into account by the Competition judges.


RM Education is donating £100 cash prize for the winner in each category, £50 cash for all second prize winners and £20 cash for all third prize winners. Winners will also receive books kindly donated from Walker Books. Winners will be notified by May 2011 and invited to a prize giving event.

Competition Rules

  • The competition is for children aged 6 to 13 years of age on or before 31st March 2011.
  • They must live in the British Isles and have a recognised learning disability.
  • Competition entries must be received by 31st March 2011.
  • Only one piece of creative writing per entrant is allowed.
  • Each entry must be given a title.
  • Entries may be hand written (which must be legible) or typed
  • The creative writing must not have been published, self published, published on a website or broadcast (except in an individual school magazine).
  • All entries must be attached to the completed entry form which can be found on the school's website.
  • The entries will be judged anonymously, therefore the name of the writer must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Entrants must ensure that they keep a copy of their work as entries cannot be returned and for administrative reasons entries cannot be acknowledged; and
  • The judges' decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

Please make a donation

Whilst the entry to the competition is free the school kindly asks you to donate £1 to The Unicorn Bursary Fund to help children from state schools who have specific learning difficulties to come and spend time at The Unicorn School.  To give you an idea about how much can be achieved from school's like The Unicorn, this is what an ex-pupil has to say:

'I know that none of the things I have managed to do would have been possible had I not gone to The Unicorn. I arrive not knowing how to spell 'cat' and left a confident and developed person (who could spell much longer words than that). Please let me know if there is anything I can do to repay the debt of gratitude I have for The Unicorn.'

- Kit Kowol, Oxford University PhD student.

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