Every year, Dean Close runs the Critical Essay Competition, challenging pupils to dig deep and produce a significant piece of writing outside of their normal classroom studies. At the time of judging, all applicants are invited to a formal dinner where the adjudication is handed down. This yearsaw arecord number of entries for the Junior and Senior Critical Essay competitions.

The Junior competition was open to all pupils entering Years 10 and 11 in September 2017. They were asked to write an essay of no more than 1,500 words on the following statement and were free to fill in the blank with whichever topic they wanted: “The discovery of ____ has had the greatest influence on humanity. Justify your view.”

The entrants wrote their essays over the summer holidays and handed them in at the start of the Michaelmas Term. Four members of staff adjudicated and gave their feedback to the pupils at the Junior Critical Essay dinner, held in the Flecker Library. There was a great selection of titles, from the discussion of electricity to money, reality TV to equality. Matilda Amess was the winner of the competition, with an insightful essay on mental health and Beth Ellison was the runner-up, who wrote about the impact of both medicinal and recreational drugs. Classics Teacher, Francesca Stewart, said’ “All of the pupils who chose to enter the competition should be very pleased with their essays and I hope that they enjoyed the process.”

They Senior Competition also saw a complete spectrum of subject matter, addressing issues including: the future of AI technology in cars, the history of the Post-It note, the ‘angry young women’ playwrights of the 21st Century, the gestural basis for the development of spoken language, Marxist perspectives on music, the Parthenon, the implications of CRISPR, and the existence of altruism to name but few. The standard was exceptionally high and made judging the competition particularly difficult for the Warden in her first term at Dean Close. However, there had to be a winner and the results were as follows:

1stPlace: Are the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit the products of common causes? Hugo Till

2nd Place: Gene Correction in Viable Human Embryos: Questions from the Future Jonny Woods

3rdPlace: The Post-It note – How it was discovered and the secret behind it? Zak Tomlinson

Director of Sixth Form Studies, Matt Wilkes, said: “Congratulations to all who took part on the production of some excellent work that was mind-broadening in both its production and digestion.”

Click here to read the winning Junior essay

Click here to read the winning Senior essay