Students are being encouraged to explore what diversity, equality and identity means to them in the 2014 Arts and Minds Awards.
The annual competition, which is run by the NASUWT and supported by SecEd, helps schools to promote cultural diversity, equality, and to tackle racism.
The competition is in its 11th year and awards are split across UK primary, secondary (up to the age of 16) and special schools, with categories for both art and creative writing.
Arts and Minds also includes the Anne Frank Poetry Award, a separate category run in conjunction with the Anne Frank Trust UK that recognises poetry entries inspired by the life and writing of Anne Frank.
Once again, television presenter Gok Wan will be judging the final shortlist of entries and presenting the awards at a national ceremony in the autumn.
Last year, the competition saw more than 1,000 entries and the overall winner was a powerful piece of creative writing tackling the pain that is caused by racist bullying.
The winning piece – entitled Who Am I? – was written by Rameta Ramanen, a then year 7 student from Henrietta Barnett School in north London.
Mr Wan said of the winning entry: “This piece really does resonate with me. When I was reading it I was transported to me being a child again. Every single one of those words took years off me and the voice came through really strong.
“It was beautifully crafted and very carefully written. It was so honest that it made me question the world that I am in now.”
Last year, there were nine secondary-age finalists in total, including two entries from special schools.
Among them, a group of seven students from Calthorpe Special School in Birmingham were recognised for their artwork entitled Cultural Celebration, while a group of 16 students from years 7, 8 and 9 at Woodbridge Park Education Service in Middlesex were awarded for their artwork entitled The Woodbridge Diversity Project.
Other secondary winners included Isla Atay, a year 9 student from King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham, who won the Anne Frank Poetry Award with her piece was entitled Dearest Death.
The competition is also supported by SecEd’s sister title, Primary Teacher Update, as well as Love Music Hate Racism, Unite, VSO, Youth Music Theatre, and Think Global.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “The Arts and Minds competition represents a very important part in the NASUWT’s programme of work to celebrate culture diversity and promote racial equality in schools.
“We continue to be overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the competition. It is a great opportunity to discuss and explore issues of diversity and community cohesion with students, using arts and creative writing.”
Winning schools will receive £350 with the overall winner getting £1,000. There are also gift vouchers of up to £100 for winning pupils. The entry deadline is July 1 and the ceremony will take place on October 9 in central London.
For details of the main competition, visit www.nasuwt.org.uk/artsandminds and for information on the Anne Frank Poetry Award, go to www.annefrank.org.uk
Who am I? (an extract) by Rameta Ramanen I hear them mock meEvery day, time and time againTaunting me about everythingHow I look, how I dress, what I do
I don’t fit in anywhereToo light to play with the black girlsToo dark to play with the whitesWhen will there be a timeA time when we are the same?
I’ve heard what they sayThe cruel remarks, the cruel names. And for what reasonsBecause I’m neither one nor the other. I thought this would make me special.Except it’s the opposite
She’s half coloured, half right, half caste, half finished
What’s that supposed to mean?That I’m not finished?That I’m not done?That I’m not complete?I’m not allowed?CAPTIONS: Celebration: (from top) Jordan from Calthorpe Special School, Rameta Ramanen from Henrietta Barnett, and Isla Atay from King Edward VI were all 2013 winners. Judge Gok Wan is also pictured at the national ceremony. Photos: Mark Hakansson, Mousetrap Media