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Manchester High School for Girls

National Success in Spirited Poetry Competition

Manchester High School for Girls is celebrating literary success in the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education’s Spirited Poetry Competition.

A joint project between the Religious Studies and English departments, girls from across the School took part . Two pupils in Year 9 were chosen to win prizes, out of over 2,500 entries.

Fenella Birtles

Fenella Birtles was a winner in the ‘Questions? Questions?’ category for her poem A Formula for Life, which explores the universe of calculations. Aleeza Siddiq was named runner up for her poem Who Am I?

Of her success, Fenella said: “I can’t quite believe that I won the competition and neither could my mum, who added almost 40 people into a WhatsApp message and told them all about it. I enjoy poetry and this award has really encouraged me to keep writing. It can be difficult to get inspiration sometimes, but this particular poem was inspired by the Maths lesson I had before Mrs Diamond’s RS class!”

Aleeza was equally shocked to be recognised for her work. She commented: “The theme of questions really appealed to me, because I’m naturally quite curious. I think the biggest question that we can ask ourselves is ‘Who am I?’ which is what I tried to discover through the poem I wrote. I definitely learned a lot from the experience and feel very honoured to have been selected as a prize winner.”

Mrs Caroline Purvis, Head of Religious Studies, commented: “We have encouraged our pupils to enter the Spirited Poetry Competition for many years as it allows them the opportunity to explore themes that are studied in the classroom in a creative and imaginative way. There were many fantastic entries, but Fenella and Aleeza produced two very moving poems. They should be incredibly proud of their achievement.”

To read the poems in full, please visit the NATRE website.


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The Religious Studies department at Manchester High continues to be successful. All pupils in the Senior School sit a Short Course GCSE in the subject. 96%  of the most recent Year 10 cohort achieved a grade 7, 8 or 9 in August 2019.