Out of Place : Creative Writing Competition 2016

Order copies of the Out of Place paperback book

I’ve recently had a number of enquiries about additional copies of the paperback edition of the Out of Place anthology of winning entries, including Arabic translations of some of the winning UK entries and the original Arabic text of the winning Syrian entries.

The original print run covering one free book for each participating school was possible thanks to a grant from the Arab British Centre.
Copies are now available to buy in paperback from Amazon.

The winners

The winners of Out of Place, the 2016 Tower Hamlets Creative Writing Competition have been announced!

The prize-giving was held at Clifford Chance, with grey weather failing to dampen spirits despite spoiling the view. Guest speakers included Alia Alzougbi, head of the HEC Global Learning Centre, who spoke of the Syrian connection of the competition and who read out the work of Yousif Al-Kahal, winner of the KS2 short story category from Al-Noor school in Syria. Nadine Kaadan, the children’s author who judged the Syrian entries, and Kim Slater, winner of the 2015 Tower Hamlets Book Award, who judged the Tower Hamlets entries.

Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service writing awards at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf.
Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service writing awards at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf.

Download/ buy the Book

  • Please be aware that the original Arabic texts of the Syrian writing are only in the .pdf and paperback editions. The eBook editions contain the English translations only.
  • [media-downloader media_id=”12747″ texts=”Download the .mobi format eBook”]
  •  [media-downloader media_id=”20759″ texts=”Download Out of Place (English and Arabic) pdf edition”]
  • Download Out of Place / Far from Here pdf edition
  • Link to the eBook and paperback on Amazon


Congratulations to all of the prize winners. To register for the 2017 competition, order via SLA online. Contact jacob.turner@towerhamlets.gov.uk for more information.

KS2 Poetry Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st & best in school KS2 poem Tazbid Chowdry Halley Primary School ‘Please let us Stay’
2nd & best in school KS2 poem Penny Gould Chisenhale Primary School Refugee
3rd & best in school KS2 poem Tanzila Ahmed Blue Gate Fields Junior School How I wish
commended KS2 poem Nasifa Begum Halley Primary School
commended KS2 poem Isobel McGrath Chisenhale Primary School What’s the point of racism?
commended & best in school KS2 poem Elysia Morton Sir John Cass Primary School Refugee
commended & best in school KS2 poem Rojin Keefe Guardian Angels Primary School You never forget
best in school KS2 poem Shamia Akhtar John Scurr Primary School My Refugee Poem
best in school KS2 poem Ariana Dewhurst Globe Primary School Make a Change
best in school KS2 poem Fahmida Naima St Pauls Whitechapel Primary School Out of Place
KS2 Short Story Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st KS2 Story Yousif Al-Kahal Al-Noor School (Syria) A Child’s Dream
2nd & best in school KS2 Story Fergus O’Sullivan St Elizabeth Primary School Refugee Story’
3rd & best in school KS2 Story Oumou Gassama Canon Barnett ‘How?’
commended KS2 Story Sabrine Denbri Halley Primary School ‘The Refugees’
commended & best in school KS2 Story Namira Sandhu St Annes Primary School James’ Journey
commended KS2 Story Angela Vassilakis St Elizabeth Primary School Out of Place
commended & best in school KS2 Story Safiya Begum Cayley Primary School Runaway
commended KS2 Story Abdallah Abu Aeesha Al-Ehssan College (Syria)
commended KS2 Story Mahmoud Al-Aarabnyea Al-Noor School (Syria) A Story That Occurred One Day
 best in school KS2 Story Sumaiya Sany Hague Primary School I could feel Hope
 best in school KS2 Story Sanjeedah Ali Malmesbury Primary School Out of Place
 best in school KS2 Story Deborah Momoh Our Lady and St Joseph Primary School The Journal
 best in school KS2 Story Farhana Aktar Marion Richardson Primary School The Refugee Catstrophe
 best in school KS2 Story Archie Pyke St Saviour’s Primary School Out of Place
KS3 Poetry Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st & best in school KS3 poem Nasif Islam Stepney Green School Out of Place’
2nd KS3 poem Syeda Najah Ali Central Foundation Girls’ School Out of Place’
3rd & best in school KS3 poem Sam Mossop Morpeth School ‘The Boats’
commended KS3 poem Saimah Begum Central Foundation Girls’ School Life as a refugee
commended KS3 poem Belal Ahmed Stepney Green School The Lone Refugee
KS3 Short Story Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st & best in school KS3 Story Lamisa Farhat Central Foundation Girls’ School Out of Place’
2nd KS3 Story Raneem Al-Kahlos Al-Ehssan College (Syria) A Flower Blossoms From Under The Rubble
3rd KS3 Story Raghad Mohei Al-Deen Lahen Al-Hayat (Syria) The War
commended KS3 Story Sajidah Alam Central Foundation Girls’ School ‘Home Sweet Home’
commended KS3 Story Tahmeed Abdullah Stepney Green School ‘Out of Place’
commended KS3 Story Jasmin Rahman Central Foundation Girls’ School Every story deserves to be heard
commended KS3 Story Muhammad Abir Choudry Stepney Green School Survival
commended KS3 Story Ammar Hamada Al-Anater School (Syria) A Syrian child discovering the real meaning of homelessness
best in school KS3 Story Muhammed Ibrahim Bow Boys Secondary The story of the Refugees
KS4 Poetry Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st KS4 poem Piah Uddin Central Foundation Girls’ School ‘From inside a Black Hole’
2nd & best in school KS4 poem Muhammed Towid Ahmed Stepney Green School Home
3rd KS4 poem Sulaiman Khan Stepney Green School ‘Out of Place’
commended KS4 poem Aafrin Al-Mamun Central Foundation Girls’ School The right to rights
commended KS4 poem Nadeem Mahmud Malek Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat School Thralldom
KS4 Short Story Winners
Place Category Name School Title
1st KS4 Story Syeda Subha Anjum Central Foundation Girls’ School Wandered’
2nd KS4 Story Saima Uddin Central Foundation Girls’ School ‘If’
3rd KS4 Story Tamanna Hussain Central Foundation Girls’ School ‘Trapped and Isolated’

The theme of Out of Place is refugees, and this year the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services and the HEC Global Education Centre will be running the competition concurrently with Tower Hamlets schools and with schools for Syrian children.

The winning entries from both countries will be published together for World Refugee Week 2016.

Out of Place for web 2The competition is for upper KS2 (years 5 & 6), and KS3 and 4 and ran from January to June.

Approaching the themes

Pupils should be encouraged to approach their writing in a way that best suits them and that will inspire their best work.

This section will be updated over the term. Please contact us if you wish to share ideas here.

Suggestions of issues to discuss related to refugees
  • Famous people who children may not recognise as being refugees
    • Judith Kerr (Germany to UK)
    • Albert Einstein (Germany)
    • Anne Frank (Germany to the Netherlands)
    • Anish Kapoor (Iraq to UK)
    • Marc Chagall (Russian-born Jew)
    • Sir John Tenniel
    • Bob Marley (Jamaica to US)
    • David and Ed Miliband (sons of a Belgian-Jewish refugee family)
    • Lenin (Russia to Switzerland)
    • Chief Sitting Bull (fled America to Canada)
    • Jesus (Israel to Egypt)
    • Muhammad (Mecca to Medina)
    • The current Dalai Lama
    • Jackie Chan (Hong Kong to US)
  • Challenge popular stereotypes in the media
    • The ‘wealthy’ refugee
    • The economic migrant driven by greed/ “Benefits Scroungers”
    • Criminals/ terrorists
    • Unskilled/ unqualified
    • A ‘drain on society’
    • “We’ve no more room”
  • Navigating a new society and trying to fit in
    • Child refugees and families
    • Finding employment
    • Language barriers
    • Dealing with prejudice
    • Refugees who may not be able/ allowed to make use of their skills/ talents
  • Conditions that the refugees are fleeing / why do people choose to leave their homes?
    • War/ civil unrest
    • Persecution (social, religion, ethnicity)
    • Famine/ natural disasters
    • Political freedom
    • Looking for a better life?
  • Where dopeople go when they leave their own country?
    • Across the border
    • Rich countries / poor countries
    • Life in a refugee camp / on a boat /staying with family
    • Looking for family
    • Areas of the world where there are refugees
  • Historical examples that pupils may be familiar with
    • Kindertransport and Nazi Germany/ the Holocaust
    • Soviet Russia
      • Where are refugees coming from today? (figures for 2014: Source: United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2015 report)
    • Syria (3.9m)
    • Afghanistan (2.6m)
    • Somalia (1.11m)
    • Sudan (666,000)
    • South Sudan (616,200)
    • Democratic Rep. Congo (516,000)
    • Myanmar (479,000)
    • Central African Republic (412,000)
    • Iraq (369,900)
    • Eritrea (363,100)
Other ideas for addressing the theme of ‘out of place’
  • Exploring personal identity
  • Recognition
  • Isolation/ alienation
  • Moving to a new home/ school
  • Foster families/ people in care
  • Fantasy genres
    • Time travel
    • Parallel worlds
    • Space travel/ science fiction

Resources to support the theme

The Schools Library Service has a large collection of fiction and non-fiction resources to support teachers and writers with this competition.

You may also request resources on the topic of refugees using our online form

Examples of stories on the topic of refugees

We have compiled a short list of fiction titles here that address the topic in different ways.

  • Michelle Lord : A Song for Cambodia. Based on a true story about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge
  • Gillian Cross : After Tomorrow. British children find themselves in a French refugee camp following Britain’s financial collapse
  • Karen Lynn Williams : Four Feet, Two Sandals. Based on the lives of Afghan refugees living in the Peshawar Refugee Camp.
  • Armin Greder : The Island. When a man is washed up upon the shore only a few lone voices welcome him. The others not only force him to leave, but turn their island into a fortress to prevent more arrivals.
  • Shaun Tan : The Arrival. Fearing what is to come, a father flees his country to make a new home for himself and his family. A wordless story that looks at starting a new life in a strange country and explores the many reasons people have to leave their homes.
  • Frank Cottrell Boyce : The Unforgotten Coat. Chingis and his brother, refugees from Mongolia, are determined to fit in with their Liverpool schoolmates
  • Roald Dahl : James and the Giant Peach. A young boy flees persecution by his family
  • Various : Superman. An alien child is sent to Earth to prevent his death from an environmental disaster. As he grows up he learns to use his talents to benefit his adopted home.
  • Michael Bond : A Bear called Paddington. The story of a refugee who enriches the lives of his adopted family and community
  • Geraldine McCaughrean : Not The End of The World. Noah’s daughter discovers a stowaway on the Ark
  • Benjamin Zephaniah : Refugee Boy. A fourteen-year-old’s journey through the British immigration system
  • Mary Hoffman : The Colour of Home. Having fled the war in Somalia, a child uses painting to express his feelings and experiences
  • Mary Williams : Brothers in hope. The story of an 8-year-old boy travelling across Africa, fleeing war in Sudan
  • Kathy Beckwith : Playing War by . A refugee child, having fled the conflict that killed his family, finds it difficult to join in with his new friends when they invite him to ‘play war’.
  • Karen Lynn Williams : My name is Sangoel. The story of a refugee child who feels out of place in his new country
Online resources

In order to help teachers engage with pupils on this topic we have listed a number of online resources below

  • Secondary schools subscribing to the Schools Library Services have access to “The Day” which will have discussed these issues during the year

For more information, email jacob.turner@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Schools taking part this year
  • Blue Gate Fields Juniors
  • Cayley Primary
  • Chisenhale Primary
  • Globe Primary
  • Guardian Angels Primary
  • Hague Primary
  • Harry Gosling Primary
  • John Scurr Primary
  • Malmesbury Primary
  • Marion Richardson Primary
  • Our Lady and St Joseph Primary
  • St Annes Primary
  • St Elizabeth Primary
  • St Pauls Whitechapel Primary
  • St Saviours Primary
  • Sir John Cass Primary
  • Bow Boys Secondary
  • Central Foundation Girls Secondary
  • Oaklands Secondary
  • Sir John Cass Foundation Secondary
  • Stepney Green Boys Secondary
  • Swanlea Secondary
  • Morpeth Secondary



Opening Times

Opening times

Term time Monday – Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Fridays and holidays: 9am to 4:30pm

Christmas holiday

23rd December to 1st January : CLOSED