Poetry by Heart Competition

From Poetry by Heart

Resource type: Competition

Price band: Free

Key stage: KS2, KS3, KS4, KS5

Region(s): England

The Poetry by Heart Competition is a national poetry speaking competition for schools and colleges in England. The competition is open to pupils in KS2 through to KS5.

To take part, young people choose poems they love, learn them by heart, and perform them in a school or college competition. Teachers then record and submit a video of the winning performances for judging by a panel of top UK poets.

There are three competition categories for young people:

  • Classic: This National Championship is a solo competition where the young person must learn and perform two poems from the Poetry by Heart website – one published in or after 1914 and the other published before 1914.
  • Freestyle: Young people learn a single poem from the Poetry by Heart website which they can perform on their own, in pairs or in groups.  The performance can include images, music, dance or dramatisation.
  • Showcase: A non-competitive category where young people perform a poem that does not appear on the Poetry by Heart website, including their own poetry.

Schools can submit up to three entries per key stage for both the Classic and Freestyle categories and up to nine entries in total for the Showcase category.

Finalists in the National Championship and selected participants in all other categories are invited to perform at a Poetry by Heart Finalists Celebration Event at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.


  • Video entries for all the different categories can be submitted at any time before the end of March.
  • The participants selected to perform at the live Poetry by Heart event are announced at the end of April.
  • The Poetry by Heart National Champions are announced at the Poetry by Heart Finalists Celebration Event in the summer term.

Cost: Free with registration.

About Poetry by Heart: Poetry by Heart was founded in 2012 by former UK Poet Laureate (1999-2009) Andrew Motion and educator Julie Blake as a way to encourage young people to explore and engage with poetry. It is now a collaboration between The Full English; The Poetry Archive; The Poetry Society; the English Association; CLPE; NATE; OED; Homerton College, University of Cambridge; and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Further resources:

  • The Poetry by Heart website provides access to hundreds of poems that participants can choose from, along with performance tips and other poetry resources.
  • National Poetry Day is a nationwide annual celebration of poetry. The website provides access to a range of resources, challenges and poetry recommendations.
  • The CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) is the UK’s leading award for published children’s poetry. The accompanying Shadowing Scheme provides participating primary schools with the opportunity to take part in a poetry performance competition.
  • The National Poetry Centre for Primary Schools provides a comprehensive bank of resources to support the teaching of poetry in the primary classroom.
  • The Children’s Poetry Archive provides free access to recordings of poets reading their poems aloud, along with with supporting teaching resources and activities.
  • The Poetry Society offers a service matching poets with schools that would like to run poetry workshops.

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