Young Historian Awards 2023 – the winners

Annual history competition for schools

By Trevor James, published 8th September 2023

Each year the Historical Association partners with The Spirit of Normandy Trust to recognise young historians who have shown excellent knowledge and demonstrated historical argument around a subject associated with a series of themes. The competition is divided into age brackets and the entry at secondary level is by essay, judged by a team of independent educators and experts. The entry at primary level can be by school and group project.

The quality of young people’s historical writing and enquiry seen by the Young Historian judging panel continues to rise. This year we have see astounding entries on such topics as the role of the BBC German Service during the Second World War; an assessment of Gustave Stresemann’s leadership of the Weimar Republic; a consideration of changing attitudes to Martin Luther King; a local study of Allhallows Church near the Tower of London; a local study of conscientious objectors in Croydon during the Great War; and a local study of Taunton. All of these entries were based on research and had strong academic qualities, beyond what might have been anticipated from school students. Several of these items are now being considered for possible inclusion in The Historian.

There are unexpected delights for the judges. This year there were many more entries from primary schools, albeit largely from the independent sector. Another was the strong emphasis on the quality of the inter-generational work from the Isle of Man where students had interviewed relatives about their lives in the postwar period, with one very strong example of a relative who had served in the South African Defence Force before moving to the island.

As a snapshot of what arrives, Plashet School in Newham provides a good example of what the Young Historian Awards may promote. One of their students has been highly commended within the Spirit of Normandy programme but the range of what they provided was very gratifying because two of them offered entries which, although not winners in a conventional sense, excited the judges and the sponsors. One was a poem relating to war which the Spirit of Normandy Trust intend to reward separately, and another was an artistic response to our Revd John Louis Petit category where the student created a painting in the style of Petit, to the distinct pleasure of the Petit Society sponsors.

Our School History Magazine category is becoming more competitive, with St Albans School again being the winner but with several more in close contention, with Oakhill School attracting special mention because it is delivering a magazine with news whereas the others comprise specialist items written by students of all ages.

Apart from 2020 which was at the high point of the pandemic, this year has seen the highest level of student and school entries since we began to collate the data twenty years ago. We are preparing for next year.

Young Historian Awards 2023 Principal Winners

Spirit of Normandy Trust Senior – Hattie Simpson, Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth

Spirit of Normandy Trust General Martin Award  Namyo Limbu, Queen Ethelburga’s College, Yorkshire

Spirit of Normandy Trust Key Stage 3  Ayan Sinha, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

Spirit of Normandy Trust Primary  James Metherell, Eltham College Junior School

Spirit of Normandy Trust Isle of Man  Daniel Cross, Ramsey Grammar School

World War One GCSE  Asim Shah, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

World War One Key Stage 3  Isaac Hussey, Lancing College, Sussex

Modern Studies [Post-1919] GCSE  Hattie Steele, Mary Webb School, Shrewsbury; Dermot Christmas, St Paul’s School, London

Local History Post 16 – Isabella Peach, Richard Huish College, Taunton

Local History GCSE – Sam Woolley, Wilson’s School, Wallington; Thomas Burke, Wallington County Grammar School

Local History Primary – Ariyan Simran Kaur Hodges, Haberdashers’ School, Elstree

Primary Ancient Civilisations – Sophie Scharl, Eltham College Junior School; Muduo Wang, Cothill Prep School, Oxfordshire

Mid-Trent and Mercia Historical Association Branch Award for the Best School History Magazine – St Albans School