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Inspire Programme - Asking the big questions at King's High

Dr Seal, Director of Studies, writes: ‘Our fourth annual Inspire Essay Competition is a symbol of the passion, dedication and intelligence of the students of King’s High. Not only are the essays gathered in this volume of a superb quality; they were also researched, written and submitted at a time when our school community was connected through remote learning. To see so many entries (over 50 once again) produced during this challenging period is a testament to the brilliance, imagination and commitment of our students. Reading through them has made us feel proud, once again, to work with such wonderful young people. 

The competition brief, as ever, was simple. In Oxford, graduate students of the past have sat the legendary All Souls examination, writing in response to a single-word prompt such as ‘Courage’, ‘Society’, or ‘Liberty’. Our own competition takes away the support of a prompt, asking students to research and write an essay on any topic of their choosing. We are delighted to be sharing the Highly Commended and prize-winning essays from the work we received in response. The purpose of the competition, and of our Inspire Programme for Academic Enrichment more broadly, is to cultivate creative thinking, independent ideas, and intellectual curiosity. Reading and judging essays on such a range of topics has made us feel that this aim has been achieved, and in some style.  

As well as the essays gathered in this booklet, we received excellent work on topics as diverse as Marcus Rashford’s political lobbying, vaccines, meat eating, the reliability of history, horse riding, animal rights, the next technological steps after 4D, cercopithecidae (I hope I’ve spelled that right), and several thought-provoking essays on the global pandemic. It is always very difficult not to be able to include every print-worthy essay we receive. We look forward very much to receiving future Inspire work from all of the students who entered this year.  

Please continue to look out for the various opportunities for academic enrichment that we offer at King’s.'