25 April 2018

Comedian and Children’s Author David Walliams named Judge of the 10th National Young Writers’ Awards!

Free writing competition for children aged four to 14 with the theme of HEROES
Winners awarded a trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 of books for their school
Best-selling Author and Comedian David Walliams is this year’s incredible judge who will surprise the winner at their school! 

The National Young Writers’ Awards is set to return with a bang as world renowned best-selling children’s author David Walliams has been named judge for 2018!  The competition, organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning, has been running for ten years and has inspired hundreds of thousands of children across the UK to put pen to paper and give writing a try.  
The theme for this year is ‘Heroes’ where children are tasked with writing a 500 word story all about their hero, whether that be their parent, a policeman or an idol they aspire to be like - Explore Learning cannot wait to hear some of the very best in heroic tales! 
David Walliams has revolutionised reading for children and has become one of the most influential children’s writers today. Since the publication of his ground-breaking first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), Walliams has seen unprecedented growth. With the publication of ten novels, three short stories and six picture books, his global sales now exceed 23 million copies, and his books have been translated into fifty-three languages.
The winner will be surprised at a school assembly by David who will announce the National Young Writer of the Year and present them with a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for their family and £500 of books for their school!  Every child that enters will receive a certificate to celebrate their story, along with personalised feedback from one of Explore Learning’s inspirational tutors.
David says: “It is a real privilege to be named judge for this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards and I am so looking forward to reading what the brilliant brains of our country’s children come up with. To write is such a wonderful, creative outlet for people of all ages and competitions just like this one are a brilliant way of encouraging kids across the UK to take the leap and release their inner authors!”
The competition will run from Monday 5th March until Sunday 29th April and is open to children aged 4-14 anywhere in the UK – from enthusiastic young writers to those who feel less confident. 
As well as David Walliams being the overall judge, Explore Learning has been running a number of creative writing workshops in their centres all over the country with some amazing authors.
Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “We are extremely proud to organise the longest running writing competition for children and over the past 10 years the National Young Writers’ Awards have encouraged children in their thousands to release their creativity in abundance.  We can’t wait to read what children put together along this year’s theme of heroes – whether that’s a hero with superpowers or an everyday hero like a parent, a firefighter, paramedic or teacher.
“We are beyond excited to have David Walliams as our judge for the 2018 competition and we know that he will help to inspire even more children to get writing for the chance to meet their idol - as well as that fantastic trip to Disneyland Paris and the wonderful accolade of being named National Young Writer of the Year!”     
The top 10 entries will also receive £250 worth of books for their schools from Letts Revision, plus a large print of the opening line of their story by QuirkyLime. Each of the regional winners will also win £50 worth of books.    

It’s very easy to enter.  Children are invited to pick up an entry form from their local Explore Learning or via Simply hand the story back in, file online or send to Explore Learning’s head office at NYWA, Explore Learning, 74 North Street, Guildford, GU1 4AW.  Don’t forget to include your contact information so they can get in touch if your child wins! 
Sarah Mitchell, Head of Letts Revision, says: “Letts believes in helping every child do their best in whatever test or exam they are preparing for. We are really pleased to get involved this year with the National Young Writers’ Awards by donating book prizes to all of the regional winners and the top 10 schools.”   
Karen Wilcox from QuirkyLime, says: “We are really excited to be involved in the National Young Writers’ Awards. Writing, like drawing, is a such an important way for children to express themselves creatively and give the opportunity of using their imagination freely. Nurturing children's creativity is at the heart of Quirky Lime. All children need time to doodle, write stories, imagine and play and we believe we need to do all we can to develop and keep fuelling the creative fire in all of our children. This fun competition is an excellent opportunity for young minds to get creative! We can't wait to see the results.”
Previous judges of the National Young Writers’ Awards have included some of the UK’s most prolific authors like Steve Backshall, Cressida Cowell, Lauren Child, Liz Pichon, Jonathan Meres, Andy Cope and Alan Durant. Last year’s winner was 12-year-old David Williams from Dagenham who won the title with his story which you can read here.
Throughout the next four months Explore Learning will be providing some top writing tips from their creative writing team, previous winners, judges and best-selling authors via their website, social media and face to face.  They will also be hosting a collection of free downloadable information on their website that can be used at home or in the classroom as well as running free workshops with local libraries, schools and community groups to inspire children’s love of writing and support them with their entries.  For more information visit
Explore Learning are an award-winning English and maths tuition company with 137 centres located all over the country.  Over 35,000 children aged four to 14 attend their centres each week.  Explore Learning’s aim is to help every child reach their full potential and get the best results they can, but more importantly develop a generation of fearless learners. 

Here is some top tips from the author of the Spangles McNasty books, Steve Webb to help you write that perfect story.  

Hello Bad Mums everywhere. Tis I, the Steve who writes them Spangles McNasty books that adorn your children's book shelves. What do you mean you've never heard of Spangles!!

Well, allow me to explain. While you were busy balancing those beautiful babies / toddlers / nutters on your knees, being back at work and parenting like a profesh, I've been staring out the window tapping a pencil thoughtfully on my idle chin and writing a new series of bonkers books about a right rotter of a nasty of a man called Spangles McNasty and his best friend Sausage-face Pete. 

OK. I confess, that's not quite how I write. In case you were wondering about the how to write for children thing, for me, it's more like this:

Tip the first: Start. Thinking about writing, talking about it, reading about it, are all very well, but until you actually start, well, you’re not writing anything at all. So just start. Which leads us neatly into tip two.

Tip the second: Don’t stop. Write every day. If I miss a day it feels like a week, if I miss a week, it feels like a month and I waste time trying to remember why I was thinking what I was thinking before I stopped thinking about it. Even if it’s only ten minutes a day it will keep your story in the front of your mind cogs and not buried at the back, filed under 'must write that book some day.'

Tip 3. Write the height. Tip three rhymes too. Always, always, remember who you are writing for. I like to aim slightly over their heads. I write the Spangles books with older children and parents in mind too, and I think they would enjoy them! BUT they are written for 7-11 year olds first and foremost.

Tip 4. Keep the story on top. Everything else fits around the story. It’s easy to get carried away and accidentally bury your story – in a book like Spangles – under too much madness. But DON’T! Your readers will quite literally lose the plot, and then you’ve lost them. For good. Children aren’t going to flick back a few pages and check what was happening in the plot before you threw twenty six jokes at them.

Tip 5. (The one that's a bit mad) When I’ve written a scene I like to imagine watching it as a video then turn the sound off and watch it again. Now pause it and walk around it, take your note pad and pen with you, look at it from a different angle. I don’t quite mean this literally, but could you tell the scene in a better way, from a different angle, from a different character's point of view? Who's scene is it anyway? What is happening? Something is ALWAYS happening or the scene should not be there at all. Keep walking all the way around back to your desk where tip six will be waiting for you.

Tip 6. (The one you won't like) Re-writing is writing. Your first draft will never be the best one. Re-write, again and again. Make it better. You will need an editor for this bit. It is impossible to read a book you've written as if for the first time. You need someone else.

Tip 6 and a half. No waffle.

Tip 7. (The one about the chip shop) I once named a character in a book after a chippy in Windemere. Vinegar Jones. You may have been. What a fantastic name for anything! Not that this is the only way to find character names, I like to explain to children on school visits. But inspiration really is everywhere.

I can't actually do the staring out the window style of writing. Train windows included. I have to be writing down what I'm thinking. If I don't, I just re-think the same scene over and over. I can't write with music on. Even the rhythm is too distracting. Not all writers work in silence I'm sure, but inevitably I work alone in a quiet room. Ugh. How awful, you may think. HA! Not at all. I love it. I know Spangles isn't really real, but he is: a bit.

Good luck with all the bad mum-ing, my own babies are all tall and nearly twenty now. Imagine that, one day yours will be too. Final tip! Take more photos, more little videos. You can never have too many.

ta ta

For more information about the National Young Writers’ Awards visit  

About Explore Learning
Explore Learning provides maths and English tuition for 4-14 year olds 
Over 35,000 children attend Explore Learning centres every week.  It has 137 centres across the UK 
All courses are aligned to the National Curriculum and Curriculum for Excellence and Explore Learning tutors select appropriate resources for each child to ensure they cover a combination of courses, enabling them to reach their potential in all areas.
All Explore centres are located in areas that are convenient for families to attend – these include centres within shopping centres such as Westfield London, Lakeside, Cabot Circus and Sainsbury’s supermarkets. 
Explore Learning were named the best Private Tuition Centre Operator in the EducationInvestor Awards 2014, 2015 and 2016, the 57th best company to work for by The Sunday Times 2016, a One to Watch in The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, a finalist in the European Business Awards and were recently named the 20th Best Place to Work For by GlassDoor. 
About David Walliams
David Walliams has revolutionised reading for children and has become one of the most influential children’s writers today. Since the publication of his ground-breaking first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), Walliams has seen unprecedented growth. With the publication of ten novels, three short stories and six picture books, his global sales now exceed 23 million copies, and his books have been translated into fifty-three languages.
The enduring popularity of David’s stories extends to stage and screen where seven of his chartbusting novels have been adapted into TV comedy dramas. Most recently, he appeared alongside BAFTA winners Sir Tom Courtenay and Jennifer Saunders in the heart-warming adaption of his 2015 novel, Grandpa’s Great Escape. Mr Stink, Ratburger, The First Hippo on the Moon, Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie have also become brilliantly successful stage productions.
David is a trustee of Comic Relief, a charity he has personally raised £8.5m for - he most notably swam the English Channel in 2006 and the River Thames in 2011 to raise awareness for the charity. David is also an Ambassador for the children’s charity, Make A Wish. Due to David’s generous support of Comic Relief and other charities he was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in Summer 2017 as part of the Queen’s birthday Honours.


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