Pupil James wears a black blazer with several achievement badges on the sides, white shirt, and blue and red striped tie. He excitedly tells us how it feels to be a competition winner.

James from Stockport School explores belonging

James, our Key Stage 4 winner from Stockport School explores the concept of belonging metaphorically in his poem

Explore the Speak Up North 2024 Winning Entries

Congratulations to James, our Key Stage 4 winner for Speak Up North 2024

James takes the victory for Stockport School with a poem exploring the concept of belonging metaphorically. Listen to James read his poem and tell us how he feels to be a competition winner.

Pupil James wears a black blazer with several achievement badges on the sides, white shirt, and blue and red striped tie. He excitedly tells us how it feels to be a competition winner.

Behind the scenes

James' reaction to being selected as a prize winner, and what inspired his writing

When we caught up with James, he was humbled that his submission had been chosen as one of the winning poems out of all the entries. This achievement has also allowed James to earn a new Scout badge!

Nick Wright, an English teacher at James' school, ran the Speak Up North competition in his creative writing group. He used the tools to allow his students to express themselves creatively. Having supported James in earning this new accolade for the group, he was delighted to celebrate the achievements of the other students in James' group. Their entries can be seen in the Speak Up North 2024 Anthology.

A close up shot of a person's hand above a notebook. The person is wearing a light grey jumper and holding a dark orange pen.


James reads his award-winning poem aloud


The bullets hurt, but I do not care. It is bewitchingly beautiful, like it should not be this good, but it is. It is strange. My family, their presence is the thing. The secret ingredient for greatness. I am not sure how dazed I look, but I must look quite bewildered, as they are all shooting me side eyes.

It is beautiful.

It's so beautiful I don't care what they think. But then why does it feel like they are stabbing me in the back? It is just a few. It's just a view... No, I need to run; I need to hide. I need to cover my face. They stare at me. I want to curl up into a ball and roll away. But they are my family? I feel like I should not be here, though. Why would you make someone feel like they do not belong somewhere? Why do people make others feel that they don't belong somewhere? It is crazy how something as small as liking a view more than others can outcast you. Make you feel like you should find somewhere else, somewhere to hide, from the people who think you're you're a freak, even if they are your own family. Sorry, I repeated myself a bunch there, didn't I? I may have got the tenses wrong, the person wrong. What if I do not belong to the writers’ community? But surely, it is about what your message, your meaning is. Not how well you did on your English GCSE or how well you did in school. It is about the deeper picture. The true reason you put your words where they were. Did you use a thesaurus to make your piece sound better? Or to get praise so you can feel good about yourself? Did you really understand what it meant? Or did you just put it in because it sounded nice? What if that word does not belong in that context? Either way, you should not change a word or yourself to make you fit in somewhere where you might not belong or feel right to.

I’d recommend taking part because it’s a great form of self-expression."
Key Stage 4 winner: James, Stockport School, Manchester
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