Banbury schoolboy's magical story of a snow dragon captures the imagination at national competition

Out of about 1,000 entries, Ziyad Abdelaal-Wait's has been announced as the runner-up of United Learning’s national StorySLAM competition

Sunday, 21st February 2021, 3:18 pm
Year six pupil Ziyad Abdelaal-Wait from Hanwell Fields Community School was recently announced as the runner-up of United Learning’s national StorySLAM competition, which featured about 1,000 entries.

A Banbury schoolboy's magical story of a snow dragon has been selected as one of the best tales at a national competition.

Year six pupil Ziyad Abdelaal-Wait from Hanwell Fields Community School was recently announced as the runner-up of United Learning’s national StorySLAM competition, which featured about 1,000 entries.

As part of the first phase of the competition in January, Hanwell Fields Community School - which is part of the United Learning group - held its own StorySLAM event, where pupils across the academy showcased their creativity and imagination by producing a range of impressive short stories.

From these, staff at the academy chose Ziyad’s story 'The Snow Dragon' as the school winner and a recording of him performing his piece was submitted to the national competition.

Ziyad’s imaginative story about mythical dragons went on to become one of nine shortlisted for the final, where it went before a virtual panel of five esteemed judges. The panel included children’s author Sarah Holding, children’s poet Neal Zetter, Writer In Residence at Surbiton High School Stuart Bird, and two United Learning Primary English Advisors Karen Tulloch and Jennifer Reynolds.

Praised for his inventive writing and expressive speaking abilities, the expert judges crowned Ziyad runner-up of the entire competition. To commend him for his efforts, the keen storyteller is set to be awarded a Kindle, as well as books from judges Sarah and Neal.

Speaking about his story, the judges said: “We thought that Ziyad used beautiful language and the way that he told the story was very engaging and drew us in.

"He used his voice brilliantly and his face was very expressive. We thought it felt like a modern fairy tale and really enjoyed the imagery that he used – it would be a story that an illustrator would love to work on.”

Ziyad said: “My writing is inspired by the books I read and by my own imagination - I have always loved dragons so whenever I have the chance to write about them, I am fuelled with ideas!

"Also, my amazing teacher sets independent creative writing tasks each week with open-ended themes and I enjoy completing these challenges.

“I was so surprised and excited when I found out that I was runner-up in the national StorySLAM competition after being entered by my school. I’m so honoured that the judges chose me – it’s an amazing feeling and has boosted my confidence in my writing.”

Caroline Bond, headteacher at Hanwell Fields Community School, said: “Congratulations to Ziyad on this fantastic achievement – all of us at the school are so proud of him. He is not just a talented writer but a real storyteller with the ability to bring his magical tale to life.

"Alongside developing their reading and writing skills, giving our children access to opportunities like the StorySLAM competition is a key part of delivering what we call an education with character.

"This means encouraging our pupils to try new things and instilling in them confidence to express their thoughts and ideas in front of others.”