The NACE Poetry Competition 2016/17 winners and shortlist, announced today (26 April 2017), reflect the impressive diversity of talent, style and vision among the UK’s young poets.

Run annually by the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE), this year’s contest received more than 1,300 entries on the theme “new beginnings”, with the final selections made by children’s author Liz Kessler.

The diversity of the entries is reflected in the two overall winners. Joseph Ryan’s winning primary entry tells the comic tale of a Martian arriving in Surrey, while Katharine Rodriguez won the secondary category with a moving first-person account of a dying boy. Other entries address themes of birth and rebirth, moving to a new country or school, changing seasons and new technologies.

Inspired by his own experience of moving to Guildford, and by the nonsense poems of Edward Lear, Joseph said he wanted to write “a fun, almost ridiculous, poem in that free style that would make people laugh and want to recite it out loud.”

Katherine said she writes a lot of poetry, but had “never expected anything from it”. She added: “I tend to write poetry on topics that I am passionate about, therefore I tend to write about topics that affect people around the world, namely freedom of speech.”

The winners, runners-up and shortlisted entries are celebrated in a special edition e-book created by education publishers Rising Stars, available for free download.
  Primary category Secondary category
Winner Joseph Ryan (age 9, Lanesborough Prep School, Guildford)
Katherine Rodriguez (age 14, Forest Gate Community School, London)
Runners-up Jiang May Cowper (age 8, The Marist School, Ascot)

Niamh Soussa (Year 3, Thomas’s Battersea, London)
Luca Carraretto (age 11, Lanesborough School, Guildford)
Freddie Edgecliffe-Johnson (age 12, Lanesborough School, Guildford)
Shortlisted Luca Cisek (age 10, North Ealing Primary School, London)

Elizabeth Maisey (Year 6, Gomeldon Primary School, Salisbury)

Isah Nazir (age 7, Ark Chamberlain Primary Academy, Birmingham)

Kyion Stewart (age 6, The Federation of St Joseph’s Catholic Junior, Infant and Nursery Schools, London)
Isha Barot (age 14, Akeley Wood School, Buckingham)
Isla Bence (age 14, Trinity School, Sevenoaks)
Morganna Davies (age 13, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, Pont-y-pwl)
Samantha Hurst (age 13, Trinity School, Sevenoaks)
Tom Postance (age 11, Lanesborough School, Guildford)
Shortlisted entries come from across England and Wales, with several schools celebrating multiple successes. Guildford’s Lanesborough School has four students in the shortlist, including the overall primary winner and two secondary runners-up. Trinity School in Sevenoaks has two shortlisted students.

Competition judge Liz Kessler said: “I was absolutely blown away by these poems. The variety was wonderful, crossing all sorts of subjects and styles. Some of the poems moved me deeply; others made me laugh. All of them made me feel proud to be associated with such a fabulous and inspiring initiative.”

Sue Riley, CEO of NACE, commented: “NACE launched the national competitions programme in 2011 to provide enrichment opportunities for young people. Each year we are delighted by the breadth of creativity, honesty and originality on show.”

The NACE Photography Competition 2017 will open for entries this term. Find out more.


I'm so proud to be Kyion's teacher. He is a warm, intelligent and thoughtful role model and this is clear as you read his poem. Well done Kyion.

I'm so proud of Kyion and to be his teacher. He is a warm, intelligent and thoughtful role model and this is clear as you read his poem. Well done Kyion.