Students critique anthology for BBC

STUDENTS from Priestley College were chosen by the BBC to critique the five tales shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Award.

They were given early access to the anthology featuring the shortlisted titles alongside BBC Radio 4 recordings of each story.

Former University Academy Warrington pupil Bryn Mitchell, who studies English Literature, English Language, Media Studies, and Film at Priestley, said: “Our role was to have a critical discussion about the stories, which we recorded and sent back to the BBC.

“It was great to think we were some of the first to read the anthology in its entirety.”

Four English Literature students volunteered to take part in the enrichment activity, which saw them read the 137-page anthology in just a week.

They then shared their thoughts in class and the discussions were filmed by the college as further evidence of their contribution.

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) is one of the most prestigious awards for short stories in the UK with previous winners and shortlistees including Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Sarah Hall, Jackie Kay, William Trevor, Rose Tremain and Naomi Alderman.

The shortlist for the thirteenth award was announced on September 14 on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’.

For the first time students from 40 schools and colleges were invited to take part in the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University; an initiative created to encourage 16 to 18-year-olds to read critically and build confidence in expressing opinions.

English Tutor Kristen Ryder, who applied for Priestley students to take part, said it had been a valuable experience.

“What really impressed me was the students read the anthology in their own time and when they came back to discuss it they had clearly put a lot of thought into their critiques,” she said.

The short story prize was won by Trinidadian writer Ingrid Persaud (pictured).