Creative Writing Competition 2021

I Am Not Alone

Click here to go to the theme and writing tips


Prize winners!

Prizes were awarded on 1st November. Well done to everyone who took part.

The Book

Free copies of the paperback were sent to all winners and their schools. Copies are also available to buy on Amazon
The Tower Hamlets Creative Writing Competition is an annual event for schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for students aged six years to sixteen. Conceived in 2004 by Tower Hamlets Gifted and Talented strand of the Excellence in Cities programme, it has been run by Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service since 2011 with the aims of promoting wider reading and literacy, and to encourage young people to express themselves through the written word. Research carried out during the 2020 competition showed that pupils participating in the competition and in the author workshops benefited by gaining confidence in their writing ability and developing greater insight into the issues raised by the competition themes

We are thrilled to announce that Arts Council England has again awarded Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service with a grant to enhance our annual Creative Writing Competition with author-led creative writing workshops for schools, Idea Stores and home-educated children.

Register for the competition

This section is for schools only. Parents/ students do not need to register separately

In order to enter the competition, receive posters, entry forms and flyers, and take advantage of these free author workshops, schools need to:

  • enter the competition by “buying” it via SLAonline (Creative Writing Competition 2021)
  • email letting us know who is to lead on running this event in your school.
  • use the form below to book your workshops

The grant also enables us to produce a book of the winning entries.

The competition judges

The two judges for this year’s competition


Ken Wilson-Max is a writer and illustrator. born and raised in Zimbabwe he has been nominated for the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award (ALMA) 2021 and the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards 2019. In 2020 he was winner of the STEAM AWARD for Early Years picturebooks.
Currently working on the book ‘Grandma’s Hair’, Ken is well known for ‘Astro Girl’ and the ‘Lenny and Wilbur’ series.
Ken will be judging the poems and stories from children in years 1 to 4.

Polly Ho-Yen writes stories rooted in reality but with science fiction and other fantastical elements. Most well known for ‘The Boy in the Tower’, Polly’s other books are ‘Where Monsters Lie’ and ‘Fly me Home’ (both nominated for the Carnegie medal), ‘My Other Life’, and ‘Two Sides’ for younger children.

Polly will be judging the poems and stories from children in years 5 and up.


Author Workshops

Arts Council England provided a grant to fund writing workshops for pupils taking part in the competition. They were offered to all age groups to support their writing.

Approaching the theme


Writing resource links

Examples of books and stories that could be related to the theme

The Prizes

Prizes up to £50 for the winners in each category plus a copy of the book

The Competition

In 2021 there will be 5 age groups in the competition:

  • Group 1 : Years 1 & 2
  • Group 2 : Years 3 & 4
  • Group 3 : Years 5 & 6
  • Group 4 : Years 7 to 9
  • Group 5 : Years 10 & 11


Emailing your work

Important note to all entrants.

Please do not send links to your work on Google Docs or other cloud networks as we can’t always access these.
Entries by email MUST be an attached file.

  • Write a short story up to 500 words (Primary) and 750 words (Secondary)
    • may also be an illustrated story or comic book
  • Write a poem or verse story up to 25 lines (Primary) and 35 lines (Secondary)
  • Poems and stories must follow the competition theme

Pupils may enter both the short story and poetry categories. The competition deadline is Friday 28th May 2021. Entrants should  complete their work in time in order for it to reach the Schools Library Service by this date.

Entries should be :

  • emailed to : as an attachment. Please do not send links to Google Docs or similar cloud storage OR
  • posted to : Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services, PDC, 229 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AB
  • and must include the information below.
  1. Writer’s name (including surname! Entries that can’t be traced to the correct pupil will be disqualified)
  2. Year group (age if home schooled)
  3. School (parents’/ carers’ contact email if home schooled)
  4. Class teacher/ English teacher (parent’s/ carer’s name if home schooled)
  5. The category being entered (select from below)
  • Years 1 & 2 Short Story / Poetry
  • Years 3 & 4 Short Story / Poetry
  • Years 5 & 6 Short Story / Poetry
  • Years 7 to 9 Short Story / Poetry
  • Years 10 and 11 Short Story / Poetry
  1. Title of work (untitled winning entries will be given a title by the competition judges)



All entries must be received by the Schools Library Services by Friday 28th May 2021.

Prize Giving: Monday 19th July at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf (relaxation of social distancing rules permitting)


  • Entries must be appropriate to the theme!
  • Entries should not be adaptations/ sequels to other writers’ or poets’ published work (including stories, comic books or films), however alternative versions of fairy tales/ myths and legends will be accepted.
  • Entries must not use existing characters from published work (e.g. Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Dennis the Menace, Harry Potter), including illustrations. This constitutes a breach of copyright and these entries cannot be published.
  • All entries must be the entrant’s own work, including all illustrations. All work shortlisted for a prize will be thoroughly checked and plagiarised writing and artwork will be disqualified. Please remind your pupils that copying work isn’t allowed! This happens ludicrously often. Seriously – even if someone pirates a film they don’t then try to claim that they directed it. Stop it. It’s not big and it’s not clever.

Boring but important

  • Entries can be cooperative efforts. Any prizes will be split equally between the named entrants.
  • Entries without entrant’s full name, school name and competition category will not be eligible for judging.
  • Each page should have the entrant’s full name written clearly on it
  • Entries must be written or typed on one side of the page only
  • Work should be in black or blue ink or text on white paper
  • No decorative fonts unless they directly contribute to the writing/ storytelling
  • If you are illustrating your work, all artwork must be in black and white for consideration for the printed book
  • We will contact all winners via their school (or parents/ carers if home schooled) in May.
  • Work will not be automatically returned to entrants but can be collected on request after the competition closes. The Schools Library Services can take no responsibility for lost or damaged work.

Privacy notice

Commended and winning entries to be published in eBook and print formats. By entering the competition, entrants are giving permission for their work (including their name) to be published and distributed in these formats, and all supplied information including name and contact details to be held by the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services. Copyright on poems and stories will remain with the author(s). Supplied information, including names and contact details, of competition entrants who do not win prizes will not be stored beyond the duration of the event.

Opening Times

Opening times

Please note that the PDC building is currently closed for access. The library will not be open during this time but staff can be reached via email or the web form.

We will update the website once the library re-opens which we expect to be from Monday 4th December.

Term time Monday – Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Fridays and holidays: 9am to 4:30pm