Primary school pupils from across Leeds experienced how powerful words can be last week as they were awarded for taking part in a city-wide writing contest.
Hundreds of children submitted pieces to the Arooj Creative Writing Competition yet just eight were selected as eventual winners across the three Key Stages at a special ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall.
With many highly commended pieces, the eventual winners were victorious in the categories of short stories, calligraphy and poetry, with children receiving prizes ranging from certificates to story books.
Organised by Leeds City Council’s ‘Closing the Gap’ team, the competition, which is in its fourth year, 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 the city.
The aim of the Arooj project is to work closely with the 12 primary schools identified with the largest populations of these pupils to help to ‘close the gap’ in attainment.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor David Congreve, and the Lady Mayoress, Janet Harper JP, were on hand to present the awards to the winners and highly commended pupils in each category.
Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive board member responsible for learning ,praised the programme and all the children who had been involved throughout the contest.
She said: “Today was the fourth annual Arooj creative writing awards.
“The reason we hold these awards every year is to empower children to believe that they can be good writers, authors and poets.
“Every year we get loads of children entering the competition and winning prizes so in the future we will have more and more authors in the city – from the Asian community, and many of the diverse communities which live in the city.
“It is very important for everybody to be represented in the city and this project is a fantastic way of giving power to the children.”
As well as the prize giving ceremony, entertainment was provided by pupils from Arooj schools with everything from Indian dance to dhol drumming, singing to recorders and even rapping to break-dancing.
The whole day was even hosted by some of the pupils who showed they were not only fantastic writers but excellent presenters.
Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils are the largest ethnic minority group in Leeds comprising six per cent 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.
Key Stage One winners:
Sukhmani Landa - Moor Allerton Hall
Safia Qureshi - Pudsey Bolton Royd
Lower Key Stage Two winners:
Fawziyah Bi – Harehills
Tori Paul – Carr Manor
Sara Malik – Carr Manor
Upper Key Stage Three winners:
Miranda Tekeshe - Moor Allerton Hall
Holly Swann - Carr Manor
Qasim Ali - Pudsey Bolton Royd