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Durham Union Society Sixth Form Essay Competition

“The right to a freedom of speech is crucial to any functional society and the ecosystem of sixth form is no different, having freedom of speech allows one to branch out of ideological boxes and find creative pathways to explore, address concerns and provide accountability.”

This is the opening paragraph of the inspirational essay that won Year 12 student Jazell Qasim first place and the £100 prize in the recent Durham Union Society Sixth Form essay competition.

Responding to the question, "Why is freedom of speech important in higher education?" Jazell’s writing was selected from over 20,000 words written and submitted to the competition by sixth formers from all over the region.

This competition is one of the many opportunities shared with Year 12 and 13 students by the Sixth Form team, who are always on the lookout for ways in which our students can develop as professional learners.

Jazell shared her reasons for entering the competition:

“I wanted to submit my entry as a way to increase confidence in my own work; my friends and some teachers had encouraged me to submit but ultimately I decided to do it so that I could practise my writing skills in a competitive setting, as well as furthering my understanding in an area as crucial to society as the freedom of speech.
I initially found the brief of 500 words quite challenging, however I managed to refine and condense my ideas into fewer words whilst still conveying the message.
I study biology, chemistry and politics and have a great interest in medical policy and ethics but also appreciate international relations and global health. My politics teacher, Ms Davies jones was extremely supportive and influenced me to actually submit my work.
I hope to study in a sector that provides a mix of politics and science at university and to later go on to work in bettering public health or researching the ethics behind scientific developments like the growth of artificial intelligence in medicine.”



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