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Orpington pupil wins national writing competition


Fifteen-year-old Emma Appah from Orpington has been selected as the South East winner in Pearson’s national writing competition, My Twist on a Tale, Represent! Her poem about social injustice has been published today in a brand-new book.

In autumn 2022, digital media learning company Pearson encouraged children and young people between the ages of 4–19 to shine a light on the page, representing what, and who, they feel is being left out in literature today. All 18 winning entries have been compiled into a brand-new book, My Twist on a Tale: Represent!

Scooping the award in the South East category, Emma Appah’s work, Dear Ghetto Girl, was chosen alongside 17 other fantastic stories and poems written by children across the country, including Smile by London winner Nora Kadar, Martha Brown by South West winner Eden Collin O’Hare, and Helping Others by KS1 winner Maria Cabungcal.

Emma’s powerful poem begins with a line from the classic nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and grows into a major commentary on racial inequality and injustice; encompassing white privilege, discrimination in the justice system, exclusionary rhetoric around immigration and belonging, and the need for minorities to stay visible and present: ‘I’m going to change the world one day, so I’m here to stay.’

After discussing the stress and pressure of reality, and the different values of truth, Emma’s work concludes with a call to rethink the refugee ‘crisis’, and looks at immigrants in inclusive ways that could change British society for the better.

Emma, who attends Newstead Wood School in Orpington, said: “Pearson have recognised something in me that I forgot was there. I feel so blessed to win.”

Students from across schools and colleges in the UK entered the competition, writing and reshaping their own diverse pieces. Eighteen winning entries were picked across categories including KS1 through to KS5, and all regions in the UK. The resulting book, My Twist on a Tale: Represent! is available to download on Pearson’s website, with all budding authors receiving their very own hard copy as part of their prize. Audio versions of each winning entry will soon be made available too!

Danny Cuttell, Head of Secondary English at Pearson: “Emma should be extremely proud of the poem she has written. The breadth of subjects, and power of her words, are both immediate and hard-hitting – and justifiably so. There is plenty of passion to be found here, and much to admire. Really well done.

“At Pearson we are committed to inspiring diversity and inclusion among young people, and shining a light on new voices and topics that might not be found elsewhere. We were thrilled at the brilliant standard of entries to My Twist on a Tale this year, and feel honoured to share this provocative, gripping, reflective collection of talent with a national audience. Everyone who submitted a piece should be very proud of their creation.”

Catherine Kulli, a Support Representative from Coram Beanstalk, who judged the South East category, said: “This was a very creative piece of writing with a strong voice behind it. There was a great balance of positivity for the future and a real sense of the author's frustration of how things are today.”

The competition was supported by a range of partners including Ace Centre, Authors Aloud, Coram Beanstalk, Governor Cymru Services, Love Reading, LGBTed, National Literacy Trust, NASS, Parentkind, School Library Association, Stamma and The Reading Agency.

To find out more about Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale: Represent! and to download a copy of the book, please visit go.pearson.com/represent or follow us on Twitter @PearsonSchools, Facebook @PearsonUKSchools and Instagram @pearsonprimaryuk

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