January 2016: Winning essays tackle tricky subjects

STUDENTS penned thousands of words on subjects as diverse as ‘Islam’ and ‘testing on animals’ in a school’s annual Sixth Form competition.

The Ashera Sheikh Memorial Prize Essay competition is in its sixth year at Haslingden High School.

Former student Ashera died suddenly from a heart attack in November 2010 while she was studying law at Durham University; she was on course to become a barrister.

Head of Religious Studies Ben Wood said the standard of entries in this year’s contest was the highest ever. A total of 18 scripts of up to 2,000 words were submitted.

The winning essay was written by Matthew Nuttall, 17, who debated the question ‘is Islam responsible for 21st Century terrorism?’. He won a certificate and £60.

Mr Wood said: “It was brilliantly researched with a wide range of nuance and detail. His tackled a difficult issue in a calm and measured essay and his writing was excellent.”

Second place went to Ruksana Akter, 18, who won a certificate and £40 for her essay on ‘Muslims, we have the right to dress however we wish’.

Mr Wood said the essay was measured and covered a wide range of associated issues and also looked at France where the face veil is banned.

The third prize certificate and £30 was awarded to Lauren Duckworth, 18. Her essay was titled: ‘why are animals used in the development of drugs, cosmetics and household products?’

Although she argued her own case in the essay and her feelings towards the subject were obvious, Mr Wood said it showed you do not always need to give a balanced opinion to write a good essay.