enter our groundbreaking creative writing competition for schools


Enter your pupils aged 7-16 into our exciting tech-led creative writing competition for the chance to win amazing tech and literary prizes.The 'Time to Write' competition is open to all schools, and will use cutting-edge Adaptive Comparative Judgement technology to shortlist entries, allowing schools and pupils to take part in the shortlisting process!

The top 10 entries in each category (as decided by you!) will be read by a panel of judges, who will decide on the winners and runners up.

The winning writers will have their stories turned into illustrated books, and win a set of amazing tech and book prizes. Plus, each winner's school will also win a great set of prizes.

The Categories

Writers in Years 3 and 4: 500 words
Writers in Years 5 and 6: 650 words
Writers in Years 7, 8, and 9: 750 words
Writers in Years 10 and 11: 1000 words

Word counts are advised lengths and final submissions can be +/- 10%

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Judging and criteria

The 'Time to Write' competition will be judged in two rounds. Entries will be shortlisted by a group of judges - and you can take part in this! The top ten entries shortlisted in each category will be read by a panel of esteemed judges.

Round 1: Shortlisting

The first round of judging will be done through peer assessment. This means teachers can take part to view other entries and ideas to feed back into their teaching, and pupils can discuss other entries with teachers to develop skills like appraising and giving feedback. We'll be looking for the most creative entries in the first round of judging.

Who can take part in the shortlisting process?

Anyone and everyone! All schools that enter pupils into the competition will be able to take part in the shortlisting process during the first judging window.

If you have not submitted any entries but would still like to take part, please contact us at write@iseb.co.uk.

Round 2: Final judging

The top ten entries in each category will be read and reviewed by a panel of judges in the traditional way.

The judging panel

  • Ali Sparks, children's author of the popular Shapeshifter series

  • Anna Camilleri, Head of English at Eton College

  • Naomi Anson, Head of English at St Swithun's School

  • Dr Ellen Spencer, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Real World Learning at the University of Winchester

Judging criteria

The panel of judges will review the top ten entries with the following criteria in mind:Idea: is there an original and creative idea that makes the story stand out?Structure: is there a clear plot that develops thematically?Character: are the characters well-developed and convincing?Language: are words chosen and language devices used confidently and creatively?

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The Time to Write competition is open to all schools, with four categories for different age groups, and prizes for both the winning writers and their schools.The top ten entries shortlisted in each category will be read by a panel of esteemed judges.The winning writers in each category will see themselves in print, as each will have their story turned into an illustrated book! Prizes will also be awarded to the winning writers’ schools.A range of other exciting prizes will be on offer for the winners and runners-up, including Amazon Fire tablets, Altec Lansing Bluetooth speakers and headphones, and vouchers.

Register your interest for competition updates:

About the competition

The Independent Schools Examinations Board is a leading provider of innovative qualifications and assessments to schools in the UK and internationally. Founded in 1903 to create and deliver the Common Entrance exams, ISEB has been at the forefront of assessment at 11+ and 13+ for 120 years.

We've partnered with RM Compare to bring schools a unique, interactive creative writing competition for 2024. The time travel theme of the 'Time to Write' competition was chosen to align with ISEB's 120th anniversary. By appreciating the achievements and events of the past, and looking forward to the developments of new innovations and technologies, we can all make sure we are supporting all children to achieve for years to come.

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Entry is open now and will close on 26 April 2024.All entries must be submitted by schools. If you are a parent or guardian, please ask your child's school to enter your child into the competition. Schools can submit all entries from pupils together via an online entry form.Time to Write is open to all residents aged 7-16 years as of 26 April 2024. Stories must be written by an individual and not by a pair, or writing team. Writers may only submit one story each. Entries must be a piece of original fiction and can not depict events that actually took place. Entries can not use details of any living person and must not include personal details about the writer and their family, teachers, or friends.Entries must be saved as PDF files, and the file name should be structured as 'Story name, school name'. The writer's name should not be included anywhere on the PDF. Entries can be hand-written or typed, but must not contain any additional embellishments such as drawings or diagrams. All entries must be in English.For full information please see our Terms and Conditions.How to enter1. Visit the online entry form on the ISEB website.
2. Download the ISEB Time to Write - Pupil Entry Submission Upload spreadsheet.
3. Populate the spreadsheet with details for all pupils you are entering and once finished, save as a .CSV (comma delimited) file.
4. Save all entries as PDF files and ensure all files are named correctly.
5. Save all PDF entries to a .ZIP file.
6. Complete the online entry form, uploading your completed pupil entry submission .CSV file, and your .ZIP file of PDFs.

Register your interest for competition updates:

the theme

The 'Time to Write' creative writing competition is all about celebrating the past and looking forward to the future. The theme is...

A time machine is found hidden in a cave. Inside, there is a clock with two options: the first, to travel in time 120 years into the past, and the second, to travel in time 120 years into the future.Who finds it, and what happens next?

We'll be looking for the most creative story in the first round of judging. Find out more about the judging process and criteria.

Visit the resource hub for support articles and information designed to to spark inspiration and support your pupils to produce their stories. Explore our collection of resources.

Register your interest for competition updates:


Please read our terms and conditions to find out everything you need to know about how the Time to Write competition will work, and how to enter.

1. The PromoterThe Promoter is: ISEB Limited of Endeavour House, Crow Arch Lane, Ringwood, BH24 1HP, UK.2. The competitionThe title of the competition is ISEB Time to Write. It is a creative writing competition for school pupils aged 7-16.3. How to enter3.1 The competition will run from 00:00 on 15 February 2024 (the "Opening Date") to 23:59 on 26 April 2024 (the "Closing Date") inclusive.3.2 All competition entries must be received by the Promoter by the Closing Date. All competition entries received after the Closing Date will not be entered into the competition.3.3 To enter the competition: All entries must be submitted using the online entry form on the ISEB website. All entries must be submitted by a school. Entries submitted by parents and guardians will not be accepted. Visit write.iseb.co.uk and follow the instructions to find the online entry form.3.4 Schools entering pupils must first complete the ‘Time to Write Pupil Entry spreadsheet supplied as an .Excel file. This can be downloaded from the website and is located above the online entry form.3.5 Schools will also need to save all writing submissions as PDF files and format the file name as: Title of submission, school name. The pupil’s name should not be included anywhere on the PDF submission.3.6 These files will need to be uploaded via the online entry form. Entries can be typed as saved as PDF files, or they may be hand-written and saved as PDF files. If entries are submitted in hand-written format, they must be fully legible, and should only contain hand-written words as part of the story. If typed, they should be typed in any font, in 12pt size, and in black.3.7 No entries may contain additional content such as drawings or diagrams. Entries containing additional content other than the typed or hand-written words of the story will not be accepted.3.8 Entries must be written in English. Entries must not exceed the word count defined for each category.3.9 No purchase is necessary.3.10 The Promoter will not accept responsibility for competition entries that are lost, mislaid, damaged or delayed in transit, regardless of cause, including, for example, as a result of any equipment failure, technical malfunction, systems, satellite, network, server, computer hardware or software failure of any kind.3.11 By submitting a competition entry, you are agreeing to be bound by these terms and conditions.3.12 For help with entries, please submit a ticket at support.iseb.co.uk.4. Eligibility4.1 The competition is only open to all residents worldwide aged 7-16 years, except:
(a) employees of the Promoter or its holding or subsidiary companies;
(b) employees of agents or suppliers of the Promoter or its holding or subsidiary companies, who are professionally connected with the competition or its administration; or
(c) members of the immediate families or households of (a) and (b) above.
4.2 In entering the competition, you confirm that you are eligible to do so and the Promoter may require you to provide proof that you are eligible to enter the competition.
4.3 The Promoter will not accept competition entries that are:
(a) automatically generated by computer or created by artificial intelligence (including but not limited to chatbots such as ChatGPT or similar software applications);
(b) completed by third parties or in bulk;
(c) illegible, have been altered, reconstructed, forged or tampered with;
(d) photocopies and not originals; or
(e) incomplete.
4.4 We are sorry but competition entries cannot be returned.4.5 The story submitted must be written by an individual and not by a writing pair or team.4.6 Writers may only submit one story. If more than one story is submitted, only the first story received will be accepted.4.7 The use of generative AI tools to create any part of an entry is not permitted and will lead to disqualification.4.8 The story must be a piece of original fiction - stories can reference historical figures and eras but can not depict events that actually took place and can not use details of any living person. Stories must not include any personal details about the writer and/or their families/friends/teachers/schools.4.9 Stories must be unpublished.5. The prize5.1 The prizes for each winner of a category are:
(a) The story submitted will be turned into an illustrated and bound book.
(b) A Bluetooth speaker and set of Bluetooth headphones from Altec Lansing, models as defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(c) An Amazon Fire Tablet, model as defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(d) A National Book Tokens voucher to the amount defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(e) An Audible voucher to the amount defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk.
5.2 The prizes for the two runners-up of a category are:
(a) A Bluetooth speaker and set of Bluetooth headphones from Altec Lansing, models as defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(b) An Audible voucher to the amount defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk.
5.3 The prizes for the school each winner attends/was entered by are:
(a) A selection of fiction and non-fiction books as defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(b) A portable pen scanner as defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk
(c) A voucher defined by the Promoter on write.iseb.co.uk.
5.4 All prizes are non-negotiable, no compensation is payable for competition entries or winners and there are no cash alternatives for the prizes.6. Judging6.1 The competition entries will be shortlisted to a shortlist of ten entries per category by a pool of judges using the RM Compare platform. Shortlisting will be completed using the following holistic statement: Which entry is the most creative?6.2 The top ten entries in each category will be judged by a panel of four judges. The decision of the panel of judges (acting reasonably) will be final.6.3 The top ten entries in each category will be judged on the following criteria:
Idea: is there an original and creative idea that makes the story stand out?
Structure: is there a clear plot that develops thematically?
Character: are the characters well-developed and convincing?
Language: are words chosen and language devices used confidently and creatively?
7. Winners7.1 The decision of the Promoter is final and no correspondence or discussion will be entered into. The Promoter can not offer feedback on entries.7.2 The Promoter will contact the school each winner and runner-up was entered by personally as soon as practicable after the Announcement Date, using the telephone number or email address provided with the competition entry. The Promoter will not amend any contact information once the competition entry form has been submitted.7.3 The Promoter must either publish or make available information that indicates that a valid award took place. To comply with this obligation the Promoter will publish the names of the winners and runners-up, the titles of their writing submissions, and the schools of the winning writers on the ISEB website in June 2024.7.4 If a school or pupil objects to any or all of their name, country and winning entry being published or made available, please contact the Promoter at the address set out at condition three. In such circumstances, the Promoter must still provide the information and winning entry to the Advertising Standards Authority on request.8. Claiming the prize8.1 The Promoter will make all reasonable efforts to contact the winner. If the winner cannot be contacted or is not available, or has not responded within 7 of days of the Announcement Date, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant selected from the correct entries that were received before the Closing Date.8.2 The Promoter does not accept any responsibility if you are not able to take up the prize.9. Limitation of liabilityInsofar as is permitted by law, the Promoter, its agents or distributors will not in any circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate the winner or accept any liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or death occurring as a result of taking up the prize except where it is caused by the negligence of the Promoter, its agents or distributors or that of their employees. Your statutory rights are not affected.10. Ownership of competition entries and intellectual property rights10.1 All competition entries and any accompanying material submitted to the Promoter will become the property of the Promoter on receipt and will not be returned.10.2 By submitting a competition entry and any accompanying material, pupils are:
(a) assigning to the Promoter all ownership rights with full title guarantee; and
(b) waiving all moral rights,
in and to your competition entry and otherwise arising in connection with your entry to which you may now or at any time in the future be entitled under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended from time to time and under all similar legislation from time to time in force anywhere in the world.
10.3 Without limitation on condition 10.2, the Promoter intends, but is in no way obliged to:(a) publish the competition entry in local, regional, or national press outlets, both print and digital;
(b) display the competition entry on the ISEB website or social media platforms; and/or
(c) use the artwork in any promotional materials related to the competition, including posters, flyers, and online advertisements.
10.4 You agree that the Promoter may, but is not required to, make your entry available on its website iseb.co.uk and any other media, whether now known or invented in the future, and in connection with any publicity of the competition.11. Data protection and publicity11.1 The Promoter will only process your personal information as set out in the Promoter's Privacy Policy, which is available on the iseb.co.uk website.11.2 The Promoter will collect the following personal data from the school representative submitting entries.
(a) Your first name and surname
(b) Your school’s name and location
(c) Your email address and phone number
(d) Your job title
This information will be used by the Promoter to administer the competition, obtain the relevant permissions if required, communicate with the school on matters relating to the competition, and, if an entry submitted by your school is shortlisted or wins a prize, this information may be used as part of promotion on the Promoter’s website and other marketing channels.11.3 The Promoter will collect the following personal data on pupils aged 7-16 being entered into the competition from the school submitting the entries:
(a) Entrant’s first name and surname
(b) Entrant’s age and date of birth
(c) Entrant’s school name
(d) Entrant’s school type
(e) Entrant’s school year
(f) Entrant’s gender
(g) Entrant’s submission title
This information will be used by the Promoter to administer the competition, and if an entry is shortlisted or wins a prize, some of this information may be used as part of promotion on the Promoter’s website and other marketing channels. The safety of all pupils is paramount to the Promoter and we will not publish more personal information than necessary.11.4 Schools are to request permission from your parent/guardian in order to grant The Promoter the rights to become the 'data controller'. RM Compare will be the 'data processor'.11.5 The Promoter is the ‘data controller’ of your personal data. This means the Promoter will decide what your personal data is used for, however, the Promoter will only collect and process your data in accordance with the purposes in these terms and conditions. The Promoter will comply with data protection law as the data controller.12. General12.1 If there is any reason to believe that there has been a breach of these terms and conditions, the Promoter may, at its sole discretion, reserve the right to exclude you from participating in the competition.12.2 The Promoter reserves the right to hold void, suspend, cancel, or amend the prize competition where it becomes necessary to do so.12.3 These terms and conditions are governed by English law. If any entrants to this promotion wish to take court proceedings, then they must do this within the courts in the United Kingdom.


Here you'll find a range of support resources for schools, young writers, and parents and guardians. We'll be adding more resources here over the coming weeks so keep checking back to see what's new!

Getting started with writing a story - 10 things to think about

Are you ready to embark on an exciting adventure of imagination and creativity? Writing a story is like painting a picture with words, and the best part is that you get to be the artist of your own tale. Here are some things to think about as you get started on your storytelling journey:1. Imagine your world: Close your eyes and let your imagination soar! What kind of world do you want your story to be in? Is it a land of talking animals, a futuristic city, or a mysterious enchanted forest? Picture it vividly in your mind – the colours, sounds, and even the smells. This is the beginning of your magical creation.2. Meet your characters: Who will be the heroes of your story? Create characters with personalities as unique as yours. Think about their strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them special. Are they brave adventurers, mischievous fairies, or curious explorers? Your characters are the heart of your story, so make them unforgettable!3. What's the big idea? Every great story has a big idea, or what we call a plot. It's like the roadmap that guides your characters through exciting adventures and challenges. What amazing quest will your characters go on? Maybe they're searching for hidden treasure, solving a mystery, or saving their magical world. Your big idea is the magic that keeps readers turning the pages.4. Start with a bang: Begin your story with a burst of excitement! It could be a funny joke, a mysterious riddle, or your characters finding a magical object (like a time machine!). The beginning is your chance to grab your reader's attention and invite them into your enchanting world.5. Use your senses: Make your story come alive by using your senses. Describe what your characters see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. If they're in a candy kingdom, how does the air smell? What do the rainbow-colored candies taste like? Engaging the senses helps your readers feel like they're right there in your magical world.6. Add dialogue magic: Let your characters talk and share their feelings. Dialogue is like the magic spell that brings your characters to life. Use quotation marks around what they say and show how they react to different situations. Maybe they laugh, cry, or even do a happy dance!7. Build suspense: Keep your readers on the edge of their seats by adding suspense. Will your characters solve the mystery? What's behind the hidden door in the enchanted forest? Building suspense makes your story even more thrilling and exciting.8. End with a bang, too: Just like the beginning, your story's ending should be spectacular! It could be a surprising twist, a heart-warming reunion, or a celebration. Make your readers feel satisfied and happy after going on this magical journey with your characters.9. Share your magic: Once your story is complete, share it with others! Whether it's your friends, family, or even your pet, sharing your magical tale is a wonderful way to spread joy. You're the author, and your words have the power to enchant everyone who reads them.10. Have fun! Most importantly, have fun with your storytelling adventure. Writing a story is your chance to let your imagination run wild and create something truly magical.So grab your pen, pencil, or computer, let the words flow, and enjoy every moment of your enchanting journey into the world of storytelling.

10 ways to cultivate a love of storytelling in your child

Encouraging children to explore the enchanting world of storytelling can be a delightful journey for both parents and children. Cultivating a love for writing not only enhances language skills but also nurtures creativity and self-expression. Here are some magical ways for parents and guardians to spark their children's interest in writing stories:1. Create a writing wonderland: Designate a cozy writing corner at home. Make it a special place where your child can escape into the world of imagination. The allure of a dedicated writing space can turn the act of writing into a magical adventure.2. Be a storytelling role model: Share your own stories or even create tales together. When children see their parents engaging in storytelling, it ignites their curiosity and provides a model for expressing thoughts through words. It can be a collaborative experience, with each family member contributing to the unfolding narrative.3. Start with short and sweet: Begin with short writing activities that are both manageable and fun. Encourage your child to write a brief description of their day, compose a silly poem, or invent a dialogue between fictional characters. Short and sweet exercises help build confidence and lay the foundation for more elaborate storytelling adventures.4. Turn everyday events into stories: Transform routine activities into story prompts. You could ask your child to narrate their trip to the supermarket, turning it into a whimsical adventure with talking fruits and mischievous shopping carts. This helps them see storytelling opportunities in everyday life, making writing a natural and enjoyable activity.5. Embrace diverse writing tools: Explore various writing tools to make the process more engaging. From traditional pencils and papers to colourful markers, or even a kid-friendly writing app on a tablet, the choice of tools can add an extra layer of excitement to the writing experience.6. Inspire with book adventures: Take regular trips to the library or bookshop and let your child explore different genres and styles of books. Share captivating stories that align with their interests, whether it's adventures, mysteries, or tales of magical lands. A love for reading often blossoms into a desire to create stories of their own.7. Celebrate storytelling traditions: Share family stories and traditions with your child. Whether it's tales from your own childhood, stories passed down through generations, or even cultural folklore, storytelling traditions connect children to their roots and inspire them to create their own narratives.8. Organise writing challenges: Turn writing into a playful challenge. Set weekly themes or prompts and encourage your child to create short stories around them. It could be anything from 'space adventures' to 'talking animal tales.' This adds an element of excitement and creativity to their writing routine.9. Create a story journal: Provide your child with a special journal where they can jot down story ideas, doodle characters, or even draft short paragraphs. A story journal serves as a personal space for their thoughts to flourish and can become a treasure trove of inspiration for future writing endeavours.10. Foster a positive writing environment: Cultivate a positive attitude towards writing. Offer praise for their efforts, celebrate their unique ideas, and create an environment where mistakes are seen as stepping stones to improvement. A nurturing atmosphere boosts confidence and makes writing a joyful exploration.Remember, the key to getting children interested in writing stories is to make it a delightful and imaginative experience. By weaving storytelling into the fabric of everyday life, parents can nurture the budding authors within their children, fostering a lifelong love for the magic of words and storytelling.Check out our Time to Write competition - if your child would like to write a creative time travel story, talk to your school about entering.

Five time travel writers for children

Time travel is a captivating theme in children's literature, transporting young readers to different eras and adventures. There are several notable authors who have created time-traveling narratives that have engaged and inspired the imaginations of countless children. Here are five time travel writers for children that you can discuss in the classroom:1. Mary Pope Osborne: Renowned for her 'Magic Tree House' series, Mary Pope Osborne has taken young readers on thrilling time-traveling adventures since 1992. The series follows siblings Jack and Annie as they discover a magical treehouse that allows them to travel through time and space. Each book introduces historical events and figures, making learning an integral part of the enchanting tales. Osborne's storytelling has made history accessible and exciting for generations of young readers.2. Madeleine L'Engle: Madeleine L'Engle's classic 'A Wrinkle in Time' is a timeless work that blends science fiction and fantasy. While not strictly about time travel in the conventional sense, the novel explores the concept of 'tessering,' a form of space-time travel that takes the protagonist, Meg Murry, and her friends to otherworldly realms. L'Engle's imaginative narrative, rich characters, and exploration of cosmic concepts have made 'A Wrinkle in Time' a beloved and influential work in children's literature.3. Eoin Colfer: Eoin Colfer, known for his Artemis Fowl series, also delved into time travel with 'W.A.R.P.' (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). The series combines science fiction, historical elements, and fast-paced adventure as young FBI agent Chevie Savano time-travels to Victorian London. Colfer's witty writing and engaging characters make the W.A.R.P. series an entertaining and thought-provoking experience for young readers interested in time travel.4. Judy Blume: While Judy Blume is widely recognized for her contemporary and realistic fiction, she ventured into time travel with the book 'Here's to You, Rachel Robinson.' In this novel, the protagonist, Rachel, has an encounter with a mysterious old woman that propels her back in time to experience life in the 1960s. Blume's exploration of time travel adds an intriguing layer to her body of work, allowing readers to consider the impact of different eras on the lives of young people.5. H.G. Wells (Retold by Stephanie Baudet): H.G. Wells' classic science fiction novel 'The Time Machine' has been retold for children by Stephanie Baudet in a series titled 'Classic Science Fiction for Kids.' Baudet maintains the essence of Wells' original narrative while adapting it for younger readers. 'The Time Machine' introduces children to the concept of time travel through the adventures of the Time Traveller in a captivating and accessible format. Baudet's retelling allows young readers to explore Wells' timeless masterpiece.These five authors have made significant contributions to children's literature by incorporating time travel into their narratives. From magical treehouses to mysterious wrinkle-filled dimensions, their stories not only entertain but also stimulate curiosity and imagination. Time travel continues to be a compelling theme that opens doors to exploration, discovery, and understanding for young readers across generations.Why not explore some of these authors with your pupils, and see if their stories spark creative ideas for the Time to Write competition!

How can Scanning pens reader 2 support creative writing?

Five tips on using your Reader 2 from Time to Write competition partners, Scanning Pens Ltd.Start with inspirational reading
Use your C-Pen to explore a piece of writing from an author that you admire. By using append mode, you can scan as much text as you wish. You can toggle the blue highlighter around the screen and follow as you play back the scanned words. Hold the centre button down to enlarge new words and listen again. You can play back the word, a sentence or the whole paragraph as many times as you wish.
Immerse yourself in the inspirational writing that you chose.
Analyse the punctuation
Now, let's look at the construction of the sentences that you have scanned. You can explore how punctuation creates clarity or impact. The pen has a punctuation pause to help you to see it and understand its purpose.
Decoding new vocabulary
Did you find new words that you like the sound of? Use the dictionary function to find a quick definition of a new word. Finding word definitions quickly will give you more thinking time. Why not try using these words in your own creative writing!
Listening for devices
Through your headphones, tune in to patterns in your inspirational reading piece, listen and look for devices like alliteration, rhythm and rhyme. Did you find a repeating element or motif? Could you use these or other devices that you have found in your writing?
Find your word bank
All the words that you enlarged and looked up can be found in a word bank called practice mode. You can also find the words you looked up in the dictionary history. You have a ready-made word list to use in your creative writing.
Now, it's Time to Write! When you are feeling inspired, you are ready to start writing!

Time to Write is kindly sponsored by