Spirited Arts Competition 2024
Get creative through this cross-curricular competition!
Join hundreds of schools worldwide participating in this year's Spirited Arts competition! We welcome entries in (almost!) any art form your pupils can think of, including:
- Art (painting, drawing, sketching, etc)
The competition started in 2004 and has been held every year since. Spirited Arts has attracted over 450,000 entrants (averaging 25,000 annually!) since 2004, with 3,000 entries sent into NATRE each year for judging. Hundreds of UK schools get involved, and we get entries from as far afield as Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand and Bahrain.
The competition runs from the beginning of the school year to 31 July 2024.
It's a fantastic way to engage teachers and students while boosting the profile of RE in your school. Some schools integrate the competition into RE lessons with a 'Spirited Arts' unit or a RE/arts week.
How the competition works
Winning entries will provide a good response to one of the 6 themes, and judges will be asking 'Is it original?' 'Is it well-crafted?' And (most importantly!) 'Is it excellent RE?'
Pupils can enter individually, in pairs or groups, or as whole class, year, or school entries. We have also been pleased to receive entries from whole community groups in previous years.
Choose your theme
1. Faith in humanity: “No to racism, yes to respect”
RE contributes to anti-racist education by teaching pupils about the wisdom of faiths and worldviews on human equality and by challenging negative attitudes. We are all different, and all religions are different – but are we all the same too? What holds humanity together? Is it faith? Hope? Love? Music? Sport? What threatens to tear us apart – racism, hatred, bigotry? How can we conquer the forces of division? You should use specific ideas and quotes from religions and worldviews. Make a work of art that shows what unites us, brings us together, joins humans as one people and expresses our harmony. Think carefully about how racism can be reduced and conquered for a better human race.
Generously sponsored by the Church of England Education team.
2. Looking Beyond
Challenge your pupils to create a piece of art that shows something they have learned in RE that surprised them and made them see the world, and life, in a fresh way. This theme invites pupils to stretch their vision beyond their own horizon and look at the world in a new way. RE encourages dialogue between different worldviews, and a great stimulus for this theme is a visit to an unfamiliar place of worship or a visit that enables an encounter with a new worldview. We think this will not be the most popular theme – is it harder than the others? – but it will produce really insightful work.
3. Where is God today?
Atheists, agnostics, + theistic pupils can all respond to this theme. Express your ideas about the search for God. Where’s God? In your heart? In prayer? In the temple or the universe? Or is she hiding? Is he not there at all? Unreal? Imaginary? A cruel joke? Looking for God, searching for him or her, matters to many, but how are we finding God? Would you search with Google or a ‘god-detector’? Is God on Instagram, TikTok or WhatsApp? Can God be found by prayer or looking among the world’s suffering people? This popular ‘Art in Heaven’ theme produces great work where pupils use ideas from religious and/or non-religious worldviews clearly: The Jewish Psalms 42 and 43 are where it starts – there are parallels in many scriptures. Use theological reflection as well as philosophical argument to make great work.
4. Wise Words? Holy Words?
Sources of wisdom in scripture are highly valued by billions: The Bible and the Quran are the world’s most popular books. But what do the pupils think is wise? Song lyrics? Proverbs? Gospels? Hadith? And how do wise words translate into beautiful art? This theme encourages pupils to take some wise words they have chosen themselves, including some from different religions perhaps, and reflect on the words and the wisdom in their art. The question marks in the title encourage pupils to think about what makes these words wise or – for some – holy. We like the idea that calligraphy as an art form will work for some pupils here and that a focus on sacred text in examination work will bring in entries from older pupils. The British Library website’s ‘SACRED’ section is a great resource.
5. Green faith, green future? [‘God’s good earth’]
Many religions thank God for nature, from Aardvarks to Zebras, via cats, elephants and rabbits. But the climate crisis deepens. Are we spoiling God’s good earth? Can we save it - and ourselves - in time of the threats of climate change? In this theme, learners are invited to explore ideas and beliefs about the natural world, animals and the environment, human responsibility for the earth and ways of praying about climate justice. Great work will show some originality: the globe in God’s hands won’t win! Challenge pupils to use scripture quotations thoughtfully and scientific enquiry and moral study methods to develop deep answers and good writing to go with stunning images.
6. Why do Animals Matter?
This theme invites creativity and critical thinking around the important issue of how we humans value and act towards other animals. Use of religious stories, texts and ideas is strongly encouraged! Religions and ethical belief systems promote kindness and compassion, and call upon people to actively avoid doing harm… the Golden Rule demands that we treat others how we would wish to be treated. But do these moral codes extend to animals as well as other humans? Can they? Should they? Do some animals matter more than others? Engaging with this theme will encourage a search for wisdom in texts, stories, traditions and practices from the world's religions and philosophies. Students will reflect and think with care about humanity's relationship with the other animals who share the earth with us. Younger children may express the spirituality of their love for animals. Older students may grapple with diverse opinions on animal welfare and rights.
Generously sponsored by Veganism in Education (VinE) and the Animal Interfaith Alliance (AIA). The RE Today suite of resources on Ethical Veganism which span all age groups will support engagement with this theme.
All themes are suited to both primary and secondary pupils: teachers are advised to share them with RE classes in age-appropriate ways and ensure pupils can respond at their own level, whether they are 4 or 14, 8 or 18.
Ship or Email your entries
Have you entered before? We'd love to hear from you.
As we approach the 20th year of the competition in 2024, we want to evaluate and assess the impact the competition has had and continues to have in classroom in the UK and around the world. This survey will take approx. 5 minutes to complete, and your input will be invaluable to us as we look to the future.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can enter?
We happily accept entries from students of all abilities and from various school types, spanning ages 3 to 19. Each school can submit up to 10 entries, so it's essential to select your top 10.
Students have flexibility in creating their entries:
- Entries can be individual, in pairs, or group efforts.
- It's also possible for entire classes, year groups, or even the entire school to collaborate on entries.
- In previous years, we've been delighted to receive entries from entire community groups.
Prizes & judging
The judging process, conducted by RE Today Advisers and students, occurs in August, and we announce the winners in the new academic year.
- We intend to award 5 prizes for each theme, totalling 25 prizes. However, we may grant more prizes for specific themes if we receive exceptional entries.
- Entries are categorised by Key Stages for judging, to have at least one winner for each Key Stage when possible.
- Individual pupil winners: £20 Amazon voucher.
- Paired winners: Each winner receives a £10 Amazon voucher.
- Group/Class/Year/School winners: Prizes are determined on a case-by-case basis but typically range from £50 to £100 in the form of a voucher or school check for selecting appropriate prizes.
- Exceptional work from 14-19 students may win up to £100.
- Sometimes, we can make slightly larger awards for class or group entries.
- Schools with winning entries receive prizes as well. Typically, this includes a voucher to spend with RE Today, NATRE, or a copy of a best-selling publication from RE Today.
How to enter
There are various ways to organise the competition within your school. You should select your top 10 entries to submit.
- You can opt for a single theme for your students to work on, or you can let them choose from any of the 6 themes.
- Your 10 entries do not all have to be from the same theme.
Type of entries accepted
What should each entry include?
Each entry should consist of a piece of art, which can be physical, literary, or created using technology. We welcome almost all artistic mediums. Additionally, there should be a corresponding write-up, limited to 400 words. This write-up should connect to the theme, highlight your students' outstanding work, and provide meaningful commentary. The quality of these commentaries plays a significant role in the judging process.
How do I submit entries?
All entries must be registered through our online submission form. This process helps us gather the necessary school and student information, ensuring a smooth competition and allowing us to send out prizes and certificates.
What if the art piece is larger than A3 or a sculpture?
For larger pieces, such as those exceeding A3 size or sculptures, please provide us with high-quality photographs of the work. Unfortunately, we can't accommodate large physical entries at our office.
How can I submit musical, dance, and drama entries?
Musical, dance, and drama entries can be submitted via email. Alternatively, you can send them on a USB or CD.
Sending your entries
How to Send Your Entries
Once you complete the online submission form, you can print an address label with your unique reference.
5-6 Imperial Court
12 Sovereign Road
Please include your reference number on the envelope and on all pieces of artwork and their accompanying commentaries.
Attach write-ups to the corresponding artwork by stapling or glueing them to the back. This helps us match them up more efficiently.
Each work MUST be labelled with the pupil's name, age, theme, and school details.
For digital entries like videos or music, you can send them digitally to email@example.com. To help us manage the submissions effectively, please ensure that all file names include the pupil's name, age, and the theme they're entering, like this:
Example: John Smith – age 7 – Where is God
Given the large volume of entries, using these specific details in file names is very helpful.
For more details and an entry checklist, you can download the full competition details
Ideas for running the competition in your school
- Many schools build the competition into a scheme/unit of work, allowing time to develop knowledge and ideas around a theme before completing the unit by creating their own entries.
- Other schools have run a RE week or day in their school that concludes with creating work for the competition.
- The competition can be used as a fun end-of-term activity or homework project.
- Use the competition as a great way to raise the profile of RE in your school! Make displays of your pupil’s work, and consider asking other members of the teaching staff, SLT or your head teacher to help do the preliminary judging when choosing your best 10 entries to send in.
- Some schools run exhibitions of all their pupil's work and open them to parents and the wider community. Some even have attendees select the best 10 entries.