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The Swindon Youth Festival of Literature is in its 16th year and is an outstanding collaborative project run by the Librarians of the secondary schools across Swindon. With a year of planning, we bring about a week-long literary festival in November, which celebrates reading, writing and creativity to thousands of students. It is organised by the fabulous team of Librarians that make the events happen in each school and to our knowledge, there is not much like it in the country.

The Festival was established by Fiona Hardcastle, the previous Librarian at Dorcan Academy, and it all began in November 2008.  Its creation and funding came from the Swindon Ten group of schools. Swindon Ten was a group of 5 secondary and 5 primary schools all working together to improve the education of their students.


The Librarians of the secondary schools involved were invited to submit ideas on what they thought would help promote reading within their schools. It was unanimously decided that we wanted to invite authors into our schools to encourage and promote reading, introducing new authors and broadening what the students were reading. It was a great success and following a further bid to Swindon Ten, we continued into 2009 and invited the other 6 secondary schools in the town at the time, to participate, making it fully inclusive for all secondary school students. Funding ceased following the 2010 Literature Festival with the demise of the Swindon Ten group. But, now having established a successful and popular festival in the town, we were reluctant to let it go, so a bid was made to SASH (Swindon Association of Secondary Headteachers), to continue the funding in 2011 and onwards; thankfully they said yes, with each school contributing financially.

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At this point, we also introduced the primary event, where secondary schools hosted an author for their partner primaries, therefore including all the town’s secondary and primary student population. 16 years later and SASH are still wonderfully supportive of us with 12 secondary schools now involved and to date, over 150,000 students have been involved with our festival in some way or another.

During the Festival week, each school will host workshops and interactive talks from their chosen authors and you can see the timetable on our Events page. 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.


The Festival programme also includes

  • Creative Writing Competition – 500 words story inspired by an image. Entries are judged by one of our Festival authors – the amazing Helen Dennis!

  • Illustration Competition – Works of art inspired from a section of text from the Carnegie 2023 winner 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.

  • Poetry Competition - A poem based on this year’s National Poetry theme of Refuge judged by Ash Dickinson.

Please see our competitions page for more details.

We are also very proud of our Library Ambassadors Award which is awarded to students who make a positive contribution to their school library. The Librarian from each school nominates these students and it is a very personal way to say thank you to our amazing student librarians.


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St Joseph's Catholic College



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We are very grateful to these companies who generously donate the competition prizes every year.

If you are interested in offering sponsorship for the Festival please contact the Festival Coordinator Kate Murphy:

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