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Our Festival celebrates reading, writing and creativity and is a collaborative project, co-ordinated by the Librarians of twelve secondary schools across Swindon. Throughout the festival week, students work with authors, poets and illustrators who visit schools for performances and workshops. In 2021 we are celebrating the 14th year of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature (SYFL) and we are proud to have attracted so many wonderful and diverse authors and performers over the years. We look forward to what 2021 will bring.

For our 2021 Festival, we are delighted to announce the following top names in literature:



Each school will host workshops and interactive talks from their chosen authors throughout the week. Pupils from our partner primary schools are also invited to join in, attending an event from a leading KS2 author at their local secondary school.

Our headline event for all schools will take place at the Wyvern Theatre on Wednesday 17th November with Onjali Q. Raúf, award winning children’s author and human rights activist. Onjali’s book The Boy at the Back of the Class (2018) won both the 2019 Blue Peter Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and her most recent titles The Star Outside My Window (2019), The Day We Met The Queen (World Book Day, 2020), and The Night Bus Hero (2020) are all enjoyed by children and adults alike. Onjali is the founder and CEO of two NGO’s: Making Herstory, an organisation working to end all forms of abuse against women and children, and O’s Refugee Aid Team, which supports refugees throughout Europe. Onjali is also a Patron of VIP Reading, Facefront Theatre, and NIA, and was listed as one of BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2019.

During the week, performance poet Ash Dickinson will return to Swindon to visit each of the thirteen secondary schools to perform his poetry to all Year 7 students. Ash encourages everyone’s “inner poet” by supporting them to create their own rhymes and verse.

Our Inter-school Book Quiz finishes the week on Friday 19th November at The Ridgeway School with quiz master extraordinaire Joffre White. This is always a highly competitive event between the schools’ bookworms. Our hosts, Ridgeway have been the winners for two years running and they will be keen to retain the title in 2021 but who will challenge them to the trophy? It is all to play for!

The Festival programme also includes

Creative Writing Competition
500 words story inspired by an image judged by author Tom Palmer.

Illustration Competition
Works of art inspired from a section of text from the Carnegie 2021 winner "Look Both Ways" by Jason Reynolds and judged by children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony. The winners will have the exciting opportunity to participate in an illustration workshop run by Steve in the art rooms at Swindon College who are kindly hosting this for us on Tuesday 23rd November 2021.

Poetry Competition
A poem based on this year’s National Poetry theme of "Choice" judged by Ash Dickinson.

Library Ambassadors award
Each school will nominate a student who has contributed to the running of the LRC and the coordination of the SYFL.

The Swindon Youth Festival of Literature is funded by the Swindon Association of Secondary Heads (SASH). We are extremely grateful this year for the additional sponsorship of prizes by Bower and Bailey, Beadvised Mortgage Solutions, Browns Books for Students, WH Smith, and Wood Street Food Hall.

“SYFL connects students, books and authors - watch the sparks fly!” - Steve Cole 2018

For more information contact :
Kate Murphy, Co-ordinator, Swindon Youth Festival of Literature
The Dorcan Academy, St Paul's Drive, Covingham, Swindon, SN3 5DA
Tel : 01793 525231 ext 144.

Email : kmurphy@dorcan.co.uk