St Helena Primary Schools have entered the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for a number of years, and this year was no exception. The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) is the oldest school essay competition in the world, established in 1883, and has welcomed winners from across the globe during its many years.


With thousands of young people taking part each year, it is an important way of recognising achievement, giving young people a voice and developing key skills through creative writing.


Each year, participants write on a theme that explores Commonwealth values, promotes an empathetic worldview in the next generation of leaders, and encourages young people to consider new perspectives on the challenges facing the world. Themes include the environment, community, inclusion, the role of young leaders and gender equality.


In 2022, on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee year, Her Majesty the Queen celebrated 70 years as Head of the Commonwealth. The theme of the competition was ‘Our Commonwealth’, asking candidates to explore the positive impact that dedication and selfless commitment to our Commonwealth can have.


A record 26,322 candidates from across the Commonwealth entered the QCEC, including students from St Helena.


The topics for the junior category were:

  • Imagine being a grandparent in 2022. Tell your grandchildren a bedtime story about an inspirational person.
  • What do you think are the best ways for young people to serve the Commonwealth?
  • Our Commonwealth Community
  • Write a job description for a superhero needed to solve a problem in your community.


An awards ceremony was held at Plantation House on Tuesday 20 June, presented by Governor Nigel Philips, Head Teacher of St Paul’s Primary School Patricia Williams, teacher Gavie Williams and Director of Education Wendy Benjamin. All successful entries received a Certificate of Participation. In addition, 14 students were awarded bronze medals, six were awarded silver medals and five were awarded gold medals at the ceremony, surrounded by their families, teachers and invited guests.


Head Teacher of St Paul’s Primary School, Patricia Williams, commented:


The evening went extremely well, thanks to our Governor and Mrs Phillips and the Plantation staff who prepared for the occasion. It was really overwhelming to hear what our young students had to say about our Commonwealth community, considering situations around the world and also creating an application for a superhero to solve a problem in St Helena.”


“Clearly at this age they are already thinking and seeing the problems we face on the Island and how best to overcome some of them. Their depth of thought and creativity was astounding and there was a lot of food for thought for our audience, which included the Chief Minister who is no doubt working with her team on the same issues. Thanks also go to our teachers who provided stimulus for our students in order for them to achieve these fantastic awards. Well done to all of our students for your inspiring essays and poems.”



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