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Arooj Creative Writing Competition
This year’s theme was “My Happy Place” and the winners were presented with their prizes by The Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Jane Dowson, and the council’s executive member for employment, opportunity and skills, Councillor Mohammed Rafique.
Pupils who have been taking part in a creative writing competition will be awarded for their poetic and literary efforts at a civic ceremony on Tuesday.

Hundreds of children from primary schools across the city submitted entries into the Arooj creative writing competition, with 28 pupils being short listed as potential winners. The winner in each category was announced at a special ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall yesterday.

This year’s theme was “My Happy Place” and the winners were presented with their prizes by The Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Jane Dowson, and the council’s executive member for employment, opportunity and skills, Councillor Mohammed Rafique. The winners received a book and a special notebook to encourage their writing talents, highly commended entries also received a book.

The competition which is in its eighth year is organised by Leeds City Council’s Learning Improvement team. It is part of a project which aims to increase attainment in pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage and is open to all primary aged pupils in Leeds. The Arooj project works closely with the 14 primary schools which have the largest populations of these pupils to help to close the gap in attainment.

Entertainment was provided by pupils from Arooj schools and included Indian dance, drumming, singing as well as a performance of Shakespeare. Khalida Ashrafi, a successful writer who has worked with the pupils during the year also entertained the audience will a poem especially was written for the event.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:

“Well done to everyone who entered the competition, there are a lot of talented young people in Leeds and it is clear that a lot of hard work has gone into creating these lovely poems, calligraphy and stories and they are a credit to the pupils and their schools.

“Creativity is a skill that brings happiness not just to the individual students but to their families and friends as well and it is wonderful to see that creativity nurtured and encouraged with such fantastic results, everyone who entered should feel extremely proud of themselves.”

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, executive member for employment, opportunity and skills added:

“We want all children in Leeds to perform to the best of their ability. Projects like this make education fun, interesting and relevant and encourage pupils to look at their own heritage and community as a source of creativity and inspiration to take them through life.”

Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils are the largest ethnic minority group in Leeds comprising 6% of the total school population. Attainment levels for these pupils are below their peers both in Leeds and nationally, however the gap in attainment has narrowed in recent years due to the hard work of the schools involved in the Arooj collaborative.

The Learning Improvement team has developed a creative curriculum project with a focus on Muslim heritage, which has had a dramatic impact in terms of engagement and motivation of pupils and parents as well as increasing attainment and attendance.

The team has also been developing school to school support between the 14 schools involved in the project so that they can benefit from each other’s expertise.

The categories are:

KS1 (5-7 year olds) Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy

Lower KS2: (8 – 9 year olds) Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy

Upper KS2: (10-11year olds), Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy

The 2018 Arooj creative writing competition winners are:

Calligraphy:

KS1: Mei Yuasa, Carr Manor Primary School

KS2: Aliyah Khan, Hunslet Moor Primary School

UKS2: Sufiyaan Hussain, Brudenell Primary School

Poetry:

KS1: Ava Snowden, Bracken Edge Primary School

LKS2: Neela Mistry, Talbot Primary School

UKS2: Ingny Soledad Rivas, Carr Manor Primary School

Short story:

KS1: Hafsa Ali, Pudsey Bolton Royd Primary School

LKS2: Isabelle Davies, Carr Manor Primary School

UKS2: Lauren Christenson, Carr Manor Primary School