Upminster school pupils’ double success in humanitarian competition

CHILD soldiers and terror in London were the tough topics tackled by a group of Upminster students who won a national humanitarian competition.

Gaynes School Language College, in Brackendale Gardens, Upminster, entered two teams in the Justice and Fairness competition run by the British Red Cross and international law firm, Allen and Overy, scooping first prize with a moving campaign to highlight the plight of children forced to fight in wars worldwide.

Impressively, a second Gaynes team also took a runners-up place, by raising awareness on terrorism - preparing leaflets, displaying banners and prompting discussions.

The winning pupils will now travel to Switzerland to visit the Red Cross museum and head office in Geneva, while the second place team will visit to the Foreign Office in London.

Pupil Matthew Jones said: “We did all our work for the competition outside class time and never really dreamt we would make it into the final. Coming to London and then winning the competition is just fantastic and we are so excited about it.”

The competition asked young people to show off their knowledge and experience of humanitarian issues by submitting presentations based on the theme of justice and fairness.

Entries complemented the students’ work for Citizenship or Citizenship Studies at school and the successful entries were put through a rigorous judging process.

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Teacher and head of citizenship at Gaynes, Douglas Jackson, said: “The competition was a resounding success for Gaynes as they landed the top and second spot in the competition. The students chose a humanitarian issue that they felt strongly about, they researched the topic and then came up with a plan to inform the public about the issue.”

The winners were announced on Friday 24 September, following a live final presentation of their projects to a panel of judges.

Susan Hazledine, head of social investment at Allen and Overy commented: “All the entries were of a very high quality and showed just how interested young people are in exploring areas of international law, justice, fair treatment and humanity. As part of their projects, students interviewed MPs, went on local radio and even campaigned. We have been really impressed by the imaginative approaches taken by the teams, how they have engaged with their local communities and what they in turn have got out of their projects. We look forward to running this competition again next year”.

To find out more about the Justice and Fairness competition or to download the resource, visit: redcross.org.uk/justice