Competitions for children and young people can be lots of fun and I’ve chosen fifteen national competitions that are free to enter and look very worthwhile. Some like the Great Bug Hunt 2020 or the Childnet Film Competition can be done with the whole family and have been specially adapted for the lockdown. There’s something for all ages in this blogpost and I’ve made a particular effort to include plenty for KS4 and KS5.

Wild Art 2020: For this competition you have to create a piece of art inspired by nature – let your imagination run WILD! There are 2 categories to choose from – REAL LIFE – entries using the more traditional approach of paints, pastels, acrylics, pens or pencil. And the new GO WILD category – for those of you who want to ‘go wild’ in every sense of the word. To enter this category, experiment with textiles, sculpture, recycled and eco-friendly materials, collages – anything goes!

The competition is divided up into three categories: Under 8s, 8 to 12, and 13 years and over. Closing date for entries Friday, 28th August 2020. Check it out here:

Wallace & Gromit Cracking Ideas Competition: Can you reinvent an everyday object, making it better than before? Come up with a Cracking Idea that helps get boring jobs done quicker and better, draw it and explain how it works. If you can, you’ll be in with the chance for Aardman to visit you and your friends to teach you how to animate, not to mention some very special Aardman goody bags. Plus, one of the designs will be used in the next Wallace & Gromit production…

The competition is divided up into two categories: Ages 5 to 7, and 8 to 11 Closing date for entries Friday, 24th April 2020. Check it out here:

School Robot Competition: Draw a Robot:  Do you have the imagination to draw a winning robot design? Draw a robot you’d like to see in the future for a chance to win some fantastic prizes. Your robot could do any task or job you can think of – the only limit is your imagination! When you are drawing your robot idea, think about what it can do, who might use it, how it will behave, and what special parts it will need. Make sure you label your drawing with these important features. You’ll need to wow the judges with your creative idea.

Age range: 5 to 7. Closing date for entries: Thursday, 8th June 2020. Check it out here:

School Robot Competition: Once Upon A Robot:  Do you have the creativity to write a great robot story? This is your chance you show off your creativity and take the readers on an adventure into the world of robotics and intelligent machines. You’ll need to use your imagination to create believable characters and a compelling plot. Your short story can feature any kind of robot you can dream up, and could take place on Earth, in space or even on another planet! Think about whether your story is set in the present day, the future, or perhaps the past. What challenges will your characters face? How will the adventure end?

Age range: 5 to 7. Closing date for entries: Thursday, 8th June 2020. Check it out here:

The Great Bug Hunt 2020…is now open for entries from home: The challenge is pretty simple – take the children into the garden or any outside space you own and see what bugs they can find! Simply point them at the nearest hedges, flower beds, trees, long grass, logs, stones, rocks (well, you get the picture)… let them explore and then report back on  what they have found.

Make it into a project – if they find a spider or woodlouse, find out all about it. Draw it, examine it (carefully!), what does it eat, where does it live – maybe even write a story or poem about it, design a poster or shoot a video. Maybe you’ll find a spider under the bed, maybe you’ll have a bug hunt indoors, maybe your explorers could learn about a habitat or insect online, the options are endless – with a little bit of imagination…

The competition is divided up into four categories: Ages 4 to 5, 5 to  7, 7 to 9 and 9 to 11 Closing date for entries Friday, 12th June 2020. Check it out here:

The Childnet Film Competition 2020: The Childnet Film Competition is now in its 11th year and is open to all young people based in the UK. The challenge is to create a short film or a storyboard with a script in response to this year’s theme which is: ‘We want an internet where we’re free to……..’

They  are looking for films or storyboards that explain why we all  want an internet that allows people to feel free and safe online and how we can make this happen. They’re  on the look-out for films with a positive and clear message about the ways we can use of the internet.

The competition is divided into three categories: Solo category – 7 to 18  – Young people make their own film, with minimal support from an adult. Group category – 3 – 18 (can include adults ) Work with friends or family to make a film. Storyboard – 7- 18 individual category – Create a short storyboard and script for a film. Closing date for entries Monday 22nd June 5.00pm. Check it out here:

The Bourlet Young Masters Competition: A Sheffield artist, Lorna May Wadsworth, who is one of the country’s leading painters of portraits has teamed up with renowned framing company Bourlet and art dealer Philip Mould for the Bourlet Young Masters contest which encourages children to get creative during lockdown for a major competition in aid of health workers.

All they are required to do is draw any image they like, before posting a picture of it on Instagram using the hashtag #bourletyoungmasters. They can work with anything from paint and pencils to crayons or charcoal.

The winner will have their artwork set in a handmade frame and hung alongside genuine Old Master paintings at the Philip Mould Gallery in Pall Mall, London. They will also get the chance to go on a paid trip to London with their family to see the painting in situ, along with £150 of spending money and £150 of vouchers to use at the art supplies retailer Cass Art.

The competition has been backed by well-known figures including comedian Lenny Henry, author Neil Gaiman, and actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, who gave the contest a fitting tagline: ‘From the family fridge to national recognition’.

While Young Masters is free to enter, those taking part are encouraged to donate to the Cavell Nurses’ Trust via a Just Giving page on Bourlet’s website. The charity, established in 1917, helps nurses with financial, physical or mental health issues.

Age range: Under 12. Closing date for entries Friday, 1st May. Check it out here:

Worcester Bosch Children’s Art Competition Environment 2020: Is there a budding artist or photographer in your home? Enter for your chance to win a £50 love2shop voucher. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is use your imagination to create a piece of hand-crafted art or to take a photograph that reflects the theme, ‘The Environment and the Home’. For example, a chimney with a bad cough, or a home which uses energy from purely natural sources. The only limit is your imagination.

Age range: The competition is divided up into three categories 0 to 6, 7 to 11 and 12 to 16.  Closing date for entries is:  Spring – 30th April   Summer – 31st August   Autumn – 30th November   Winter – 15th January At four times during the year  there will be winners for each age group. Check it out here:

Young Geographer of the Year: This competition gives young people the chance to explore the potential that geography holds. Although we might all be confined to our homes, and doing #geographyathome, are asking young people to explore their wider geographical horizons by exploring  the geography of: ‘The world beyond my window’

They  are interested in entries that explore the human and physical geography of places that exist beyond a young person’s window, be it locally or further afield. They want to know how young people’s lives are connected to and influenced by these places – be the connections physical, digital or emotional. They also want to understand how geographical processes in the physical and human worlds have created these places and might be changing them.

Age range: The competition is divided up into four categories KS2 7 to 11 KS3 11-14 KS4 or GCSE 14-16 KS5 or A Level 16-18 Children and young people should enter the Key Stage category which they will be in as of 30 June 2020. Closing date for entries: Tuesday, 30th June 5.00pm. Check it out here:

The Tourist Trail Young Persons’ Writing Competition: What better time to start dreaming of your future UK holiday? All you have to do is simply send in your entry of at least 400 words describing your dream UK holiday (images and videos are welcome!)

Age range: 6 to 14 . Closing date for entries Friday, 15th May. Check it out here:

The Young Walter Scott Competition: If you are interested in history and writing, the Young Walter Scott Prize is ready to take you on an adventure.  This is the UK’s only creative writing prize specifically for budding historical fiction writers!  If you are at home on lockdown, this is the perfect time to flex your writing muscles and get a story down on paper.

They are looking for stories with historical relevance and accuracy, originality, a good grasp of language, characterisation and plot – but above all enjoyment in  writing.  The fiction can be in any form – prose, poetry, drama, fictional diaries, letters or reportage.  Stories must be set in the past – any time before you were born!

What are you waiting for – start your adventure in time travel now!

Age range: The competition is divided up into two categories 11 to 15  and 16 to 19 Closing date for entries Saturday, 31st October. Check it out here:

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020: is now open for entries. The competition welcomes poems on any theme and any length. It is completely free to enter and you can enter as many poems as you wish. Entries must be written in English, but you can include phrases in your mother tongue or another language. All entrants will receive a certificate for participating in this prestigious competition.

Winners receive a fantastic range of prizes, from mentoring to a residential Arvon writing course, Poetry Society membership to books. The Poetry Society also continues to support winners’ development with performance, publication and internship opportunities.

Age range: 11 to 17. Closing date for entries Friday, 31st July midnight.  Check it out here:

Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition: The Bridport Prize is an international creative writing competition established in 1973 by the Arts Centre’s founder Peggy Chapman-Andrews. Their patron is Fay Weldon and their alumni reads like a Who’s Who of the literary world: Kate Atkinson MBE, Gail Honeyman and Kit de Waal. Judges have included Roger McGough, Monica Ali and Zoe Heller.

A great opportunity for new writers in poetry, short story, flash fiction and the novel to get themselves heard.

‘I have enormously fond memories of the Bridport Prize. It gave me one of the first affirmations that I could write. The story I wrote for the competition was the first time I felt I found that elusive thing – my ‘voice’. Without the Bridport Prize I would probably not have found my agent and quite possibly wouldn’t have written Behind the Scenes at the Museum so I have a lot to be thankful to it for.’ Kate Atkinson, Novelist

Age range: Over 16. Closing date for entries Sunday, 31st May  midnight.  Check it out here:

The Sony World Photography Awards 2020: Produced by the World Photography Organisation, the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards are one of the most important fixtures in the global photographic calendar.

The Awards are a global voice for photography and provide a vital insight into contemporary photography today. For both established and emerging artists, the Awards offer world-class opportunities for exposure of their work.

Now in its 13th year, the Awards consist of four competitions: Professional (for a body of work), Open (for a single image), Student (for academic institutions) and Youth.

Free to enter, there is a competition and a category for everyone – from Architecture, Documentary, Landscape, Portraiture, Sport, Street Photography, Wildlife, Travel, Culture and more.

Youth Photographer of the Year receives flights and accommodation to the Awards ceremony in London, a range of Sony digital imaging equipment and inclusion at the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London

Age range: 12 to 19. Opening date: Wednesday, 1st July 2020  Check it out here:

The British International Education Association 2020: The theme this year is “Help us solve the global plastic problem!” and due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, BIEA has adapted this year’s competition so it can be completed remotely, with entries submitted via email. Students can enter as part of a team (of up to 5 people) or as an individual competitor. Siblings or students of different age categories can participate together.

We know that the world has a plastic problem. Our oceans and lands have become polluted with our carelessly discarded plastic waste that will take 1000s of years to decompose on land, whilst the plastic in the oceans break up into toxin-laden tiny particles. Our plastic waste is now causing chemical pollution in the oceans.

What can we do?

We can use our technology to clean up the plastic waste before it turns into the environmentally disastrous chemical pollution that threatens both marine and land-based life. The competition theme in 2020 reflects two major concepts: Technological innovation and the clearing of plastic waste: “The Plastic Problem”.

Report writing: Competitors will use the Internet and other secondary sources to research, design and write a report on the ‘Save our shores through STEM’ project, helping clean up plastic from remote mud banks and waterlines through innovative and creative specifications. Submissions must be emailed by 1st June 2020 5pm (UTC).

Design: The design round is a paper-based entry, with competitors producing several concept images of their vehicle designs, including a cartoon-strip of the vehicle in action. These images should be submitted by 1st June 2020 5pm (UTC).

The competition is divided into three  categories: Ages 9 to 11, 12 to  14, 15 to 17 Closing date for all rounds: 1st June 2020. Online Q & A round 16 – 23rd June 2020  Check it out here:

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