Talented ten-year-old Isabella Mowatt claimed t he p rize for Hedworth Lane Primary School, in Boldon, after entering a national poetry competition run by Reading Solutions, an online reading development programme.
Challenged to put pen to paper on the subject ‘What Christmas Means to me’, the Year Five wordsmith based her poem on the 12 Days of Christmas, with lines including “on the second day it was snowing and glowing” and “on the third day I found my elf on the shelf”, reflecting her own festive experiences.
The poem was selected by judges from thousands of entries to form a shortlist of six, which were then posted on social media and put to a vote.
This week, Isabella was told her poem had polled highest.
She said: “When my headteacher told me I was really shocked, as I didn’t think I would win. It felt really good when I was told I had won and I was very excited. I like the song 12 Days of Christmas and so I decided to base my poem around this.
"My poem is about all the things I like about Christmas.”
While second prize would have seen Isabella receive Amazon vouchers worth £100, the top prize will see the free award of 35 licences to enable the use of the online Reading Solutions package, designed to “improve reading speed and fluency, increase vocabulary and accelerate reading comprehension”.
Isabella added: “I’m really pleased to win something for the whole school.”
Year Five teacher Michelle Watson said: “We are super proud of Isabella. This was a national competition entered by hundreds of schools and it’s such an amazing achievement.
"I think voters liked the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas theme and her poem included rhyme and alliteration, as well an Isabella’s own take on what Christmas means to her.
"It would normally be quite a high cost to get this programme in school and so it’s great the whole class is going to benefit.
"Winning the subscriptions to Reading Plus is an excellent start to the new year and we can’t wait to see what reading results we can achieve.”
Isabella’s mum, Amy Mowatt, 33, has seen her daughter’s confidence visibly grow since winning the competition.
She said: “Isabella is very shy and this has been a real boost to her confidence. Since winning the competition she has been writing lots of poems.”
The Reading Plus package is designed to provide intervention to “accelerate reading progress” and could be an important resource to help students catch up after the disruption of Covid lockdowns.
Reading Solutions Reading development consultant, Jonny Bennett, said: “Our Christmas poem competition was centred around the theme of what Christmas means to me, which encouraged children to use their imaginations and creative writing.
“Isabella’s clever poem was a worthy winner and we are looking forward to our partnership with Hedworth Lane to improve and inspire pupil’s love of reading in school and at home.”