BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University

Dean Atta at Barking & Dagenham College for the 2018 Student Critics’ Award

The BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University celebrates the written word by encouraging students to read critically, foster skills in literary criticism, and to build confidence.

Aimed at 16-18 year olds, selected students flex their critical muscles as they read, discuss and critique the five stories shortlisted for the prestigious BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University.

“I really, really liked the discussion – the teacher was one of us, rather than telling us” – Participating student from the BBC Student Critics’ Award 2018.

2018 saw 600 16 – 18-year-old students from 40 schools, and for 2019, this activity is being extended to encourage wider community link-ups between schools, colleges, libraries and bookshops around the UK.

Inaayat Hashim, Head of English at Pocklington School, York, led a group of sixth-formers in 2018 and said,
“This was such a tonic for students who have been jaded by public examination and sedated by a summer holiday. It energised them and imbued them with a vigour for academic debate that we are still running off weeks later.”

Each group selected receives a teaching resource for the short story which includes creative cross-curricular activity ideas; copies of the official BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University Anthology; a bespoke discussion guide for the five stories shortlisted for that year’s award and the possibility of live or online interactions with writers, judges, First Story Patrons and staff and students from Cambridge University Faculty of English, and a certificate for the group.

Please note that the shortlisted stories for the BBC National Short Story Award may contain adult themes.

Ingrid Persaud, winner of 2018 BBC National Short Story Award, talking to students at Walworth College

Four Cambridge University Lecturers discuss a short story

Six yards in front stood the blazing building. A minute before I would never have distinguished it from any other drab Victorian atrocity happily on fire. Now I was immediately certain of every minute detail. –William Sansom, ‘The Wall’ (1941) William Sansom was a short story writer and firefighter during the London Blitz. In these […]

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