Learning for Sustainability

Award winners, highly commended and finalist entries for the Words for the World competition held in Scotland in the run up to COP26

Words for the World 2021 Awards

Words for the World flyer imageSCILT’s Words for the World competition was inspired by a quote from the inspirational young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who said ‘We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.’

The competition ran just before the COP26 event took place in Scotland in November 2021. The aim of the competition was for young learners, from P1 through to S6, to think and write in a language other than English about the important issues that COP26, and global debate generally, is raising here in Scotland right now.

This competition was open to all languages, and we received entries from 24 different languages in total: Scottish Gaelic, Scots, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, Tamil, Telugu, Arabic, Urdu, Polish, Farsi, Italian, Yoruba, Latvian, Afrikaans, Japanese, Hindi, Indonesian, German, Portuguese, Icelandic and Persian! This is a beautiful reflection of the rich diversity of Scotland’s languages landscape.

We received over 130 separate entries, some from individuals, some from groups and some from whole classes. In total, well over 200 pupils contributed to the competition. These entries came from 14 different local authorities, from north in the Western Isles to south in South Ayrshire, from east in Edinburgh to west in Glasgow and everywhere in between, and from both state and independent schools. Learners used and developed a number of skills in their entries, including teamwork, literacy, planning, creativity and digital skills, to name a few. Issues covered were mainly around climate change and concern for the future of our planet, but also included racism, the need for peace and personal accounts of escape from the Taliban. Many powerful messages were shared.

A judging panel of experts in language and in global issues decided on the winners in each of the four categories: P1-4, P5-7, S1-3 and S4-6. Entries were all of a very high standard and our judges reported that their task was not an easy one! The shortlisted entrants, along with their parents and teachers, were invited to an online awards event on 17 November 2021, where the winners were announced. Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who took part!

In their fantastic entries, our young people clearly demonstrated that they have the ideas, the creativity and the passion to change the world with their words. The future of our world is a lot brighter with all of them in it and we are delighted that this competition gave us the opportunity to see that in action.

Schools who want to introduce Learning for Sustainability in the languages class may like to visit our toolkit for ideas.

Transcripts and translations from each of our finalist entries can be viewed in the presentation below:

The event concluded with an announcement of the prizes the finalists would be awarded.

SCILT awarded each highly commended entrant a certificate along with a £15 book token.

Winners received a certificate, a £25 book token and additionally a winner's trophy.

Schools were issued with a certificate of participation they could present to everyone who took part in the competition.

We received some lovely feedback about the competition and event, including several posts on Twitter:

Alva Academy

Craigmount High School

Goodlyburn Primary

The Glasgow Academy

Renfrew High School


Sgoil Bhreascleit

St Patrick's Primary

St Patrick's Primary

Along with a press article about one of our winners, Oriana.

This is wonderful – and always appreciated at any time but especially after the turbulent few years pupils have had! What a lovely thing for them to achieve and to do!

When our children saw their school on the 'big screen' the wave of excitement was overwhelming. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would also like to pass on our congratulations not only to the winners of each category, but all the pupils who took part.

We watched the competition final as a whole class this afternoon and we're all delighted to see Zofia win first place for her entry! The children all enjoyed seeing the other finalists' entries too.
University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages