National education charity Future First's writing competition prize was awarded by author Raffaella Barker, who said the winner's idea was "smart, inventive and funny"

An "Underground Lost Life Explorer" was the winning entry in the writing competition, which asked youngsters to dream up ingenious jobs of the future imagining how the world of work has changed in 2039.

Alfie Clay, a student at City of Norwich School, was one of 250 Year 7 students in Norwich who entered the competition organised by Future First and judged by Norfolk author Raffaella Barker. 

Students were asked to imagine a world 20 years hence and to write to their current selves describing the strengths and skills they need for their job, what thrilled them about it and how it fitted in with their life.   

Alfie, as Sir Alfie Clay, becomes an Underground Lost Life Explorer in a secret organisation fighting X- tech which wants to rid the world of humans and replace them with robots. He has a robotic arm after his own was crushed in an explosion, an eye which detects life in buildings and he’s accompanied by a trusty pet fox who can speak to the latest technology.

Raffaella, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, said, “This entry was smart, inventive and funny with a fully realised character shown in just a short letter. I loved the attention to detail and the fox called Pun. The author showed an understanding of perspective, drawing a rich and vivid portrait of the world that his well drawn character, Sir Alfie Clay, inhabited with all his interesting quirks. Well done!”

City of Norwich runners-up in the writing competition were Gracie Fleet, a Personal Unicorn Trainer or PUT, Halah Alhijjaj, a pilot in a dark world where sunlight is ever decreasing and Sidney Fraser-Pearce who invents a time machine.

Other runners-up were Sebastian Breckons of the Open Academy for his job as President of the Science Industry of America who invents an atom eating bullet releasing controllable bacteria and City Academy Norwich student Jaycee Busuego who colonises the coldest planets in the Proxima Cenaui solar system. 

Raffaella said of the five runners-up, “Each one shows ingenuity, imagination and a sense of form and an ability to fully imagine the world that each of them created. They made me want to know more, and they made me feel the future is in exciting hands!”

Writing competition presented by Raffaella BarkerWriting competition winner Alfie wins a £50 Amazon voucher and a copy of Raffaella’s young adult book, Phosphorescence, and the runners-up each receive a £10 voucher and a copy of Raffaella’s book.

The writing competition is part of Future First’s work in four state schools and a college in Norwich where it is helping each to build links with local employers. Norwich is one of the government’s six opportunity areas, identified as a cold spot for careers education. By thinking about jobs in 2039, the charity is enabling students to reflect imaginatively about the world of opportunities available to them after school. As well as City of Norwich School, Future First is also working with City Academy Norwich, the Open Academy, Notre Dame High School and City College Norwich.

Matt Lent, Chief Executive Officer of Future First said, “The students’ ideas of what work could like in 20 years’ time were so inventive, but there is a serious point behind the competition. The world of work and the skills young people will need changes very quickly and schools have to try to keep up. The young people in these schools will truly benefit from working with representatives from the world of work who can show them what's possible and open their eyes to a world beyond their own."

For further information visit www.futurefirst.org.uk.

Picture caption: Writing competition winner Alfie Clay, judge Raffaella Barker, and runners-up Gracie Fleet, Sidney Fraser-Pearce, Halah Alhijjaj pictured left to right.

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Writing competition entrants and judge Raffaella Barker
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