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Creative pupils let their pens do the talking


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 Wednesday.

Hundreds of children from primary schools across the city submitted entries into this year’s Arooj creative writing competition, with 27 pupils being short listed as potential winners. The winner in each category will be announced next Wednesday 15 March, at a special ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall.

The competition which is in its seventh year is organised by Leeds City Council’s Inclusion team, 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 aim of the Arooj project is to work closely with the 12 primary schools with the largest populations of these pupils to help to close the gap in attainment.

Media opportunity

  • When: Wednesday 15 March, starts at 1.30pm (media to arrive at 3.10 for interviews / photos afterwards)
  • Where: Banqueting Suite, Leeds Civic Hall, Portland Crescent, LS1 1UR
  • Members of the media are welcome attend the Arooj creative writing awards. Photos with the winners and interviews with representatives from Leeds City Council will be available after the awards ceremony.

This year’s theme was ‘Exploring’. Awards will be presented to winners and highly commended pupils in each category by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Gerry Harper, senior councillors and members of the leadership team from children’s services. The winners will receive a book and a special notebook to encourage their writing talents, and highly commended entries will also receive a book.

Entertainment will be provided by pupils from Arooj schools and will range from Indian dance to dhol drumming, singing and performing an extract from a Shakespeare play. Khalida Ashrafi, a successful writer who has worked with the pupils during the year will also entertain the audience will a specially written poem and Canary Trap will perform music from around the Muslim world.

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy 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. 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.

“We want all children in Leeds to perform to the best of their ability. Projects like this make education fun, interesting and relevant for pupils whose attainment and attendance may be low, and encourages them to look at their own heritage and community as a source of creativity and inspiration.”

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 is 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 Inclusion 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 12 schools involved in the project so that they can benefit from each other’s expertise.

The categories for the Arooj creative writing competition 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