Spirited Arts & Poetry
Get involved in the 2021 competition!
Join hundreds of schools from around the world taking part in this year's Spirited Arts competition! We welcome entries in (almost!) any artform your pupils can think of, including:
- Art (painting, drawing, sketching etc)
Winning entries will provide a good response to one of the 5 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 on previous years.
The annual competition starts at the beginning of every school year and runs through the spring and summer terms. All entries must be received before 31 July 2021. To enable teachers to incorporate the art competition into their RE lessons, many schools have an ‘Spirited Arts’ unit of work, or a special learning RE/arts week.
Many schools host their own Spirited Arts competition and send their 10 winning entries in to our international competition. What a great way to engage all your teachers and pupils and raise the profile of RE in your school!
We have some exciting new themes for you and your pupils for the 2021 competition! We are delighted to partner with the Jo Cox Foundation for our “We have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.” theme.
“We have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.”
We are delighted to partner with the Jo Cox Foundation to run this theme. The quote from Jo Cox MP introduces this theme which is about the question: are we one human race, despite our differences and divisions? We are all different, and all religions are different – but are we all the same too? Can we all be united? What holds humanity together? Is it faith? Hope? Love? Music? What threatens to tear us apart? How can we overcome the divisions that affect us? Use some specific religious ideas and quotes in this. Make a work of art that shows what unites us, brings us together, joins humans as one people and expresses our harmony. Use the disciplines of theology, but also of psychology and sociology to explore the questions and create your responses.
God’s good earth?
(“Beautiful World, wonderful God?")
Are we spoiling God’s good earth? Does the Earth belong to God? Should we be thankful for it? Can we save it in time from the threats of climate change? The beauty of the earth is celebrated in many religions, but the human spoiling of the earth is a danger and a coming crisis. In this theme, learners are invited to explore ideas and beliefs about the natural world, 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, but also the methods of scientific enquiry and moral study to develop deep answers and good writing to go with stunning images.
Where is God?
Atheists, agnostics and believers in God might all respond to this by expressing their sense of the search for God or finding 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? Looking for God, searching for him or her, matters to many, but how are we doing in finding God? Would you search with google or a ‘god-detector’? Is God on Instagram or WhatsApp? Can God be found by prayer or by looking among the world’s suffering people? This popular ‘Art in Heaven’ theme produces great work where pupils use ideas from religions clearly: The Jewish Psalms 42 and 43 are where it starts. Use theological reflection as well as philosophical argument to make great work.
Do you believe in healing? Religions love to tell stories of healing, of body, mind and spirit. Jewish scripture has healing stories: God tells Moses ‘I am God who heals you.’ Sarah is healed so that she can have a child. Naaman, a foreigner, is cured of leprosy. In Christianity, Jesus is a famous healer, helping people with blindness, deafness or many afflictions. Hindus travel to the Balaji Mandir in Rajasthan seeking healing. Christians go to Lourdes, in France. But not everyone gets healed. And anyway, maybe having our minds or souls healed is more important that bodily healing. And some atheist philosophers argue that religious healing is always a con trick of some kind. Make a work of art that explores a story of healing, or the whole idea. Use methods from theology and philosophy to make sure your work is deep!
What inspires you? A song? A quote? Another person’s life? A place?
Religion offers people inspiration to live. Sometimes an inspirational life, a person’s example, a text or a piece of music crystallizes our inspiration. In this theme, you are invited to identify what inspired you from a religion or from your own worldview – it doesn’t have to be your own faith, as inspiration tends to spill over the edges of religions.
Explain through your art and text what connects your inspiration to spiritual or religious life. You might use methods from the creative arts that relate to spirituality as you understand it.
Who can enter?
We welcome entries from pupils of all abilities and any school type, from age 3 right up to age 19. We can only accept 10 entries per school – so be sure to whittle them down to your 10 best.
Prizes & judging
Judging by RE Today Advisers and students, takes place in August and winners are announced in the new academic year.
We aim to award 5 prizes for each theme (25 in total) but may award more if we have very strong entries for some themes. Entries are split into Key Stages for judging, and we hope to have at least one winner per key stage where possible.
Prizes are typically:
- Individual pupil winners - £20 Amazon voucher
- Paired winners - £10 Amazon voucher each
- Group/Class/Year/School winners – Prizes decided on a case by case basis, but are often a £50-£100 voucher or cheque for the school to choose appropriate prizes.
All schools whose pupil(s) produce winning work will also receive a voucher to spend on NATRE membership or RE Today resources/training.
How to enter
There are lots of ways to run the competition in your school (see the supporting resources and ideas section for inspiration!). You need to select your 10 best entries to send in. You can choose a single theme for pupils to work on, or allow them to respond to any of the 5 themes. Your 10 entries do not all need to be from the same theme.
Entries should consist of a piece of art, be it physical, literal or using technology (almost all mediums are welcome) and a corresponding write up of no more than 400 words. The write up should support the main piece in responding to the theme and showcase the brilliant RE your pupils are doing. The commentary is a large element of judging, and authentic commentaries demonstrating pupil knowledge and interpretation always rank highly.
All entries being sent to us need to be registered through our online submission form. This builds a list of all the school and pupil information we need to run the competition smoothly and send out prizes and certificates.
If your pupils have produced a piece or work larger than A3 (including sculptures) please send us some high-quality photographs of the work, as we are unable to accommodate large entries at our office.
Musical, dance and drama entries can be sent via email, or sent on a USB or CD.
You can send your entries by:
When you complete the online submission form, an address label including your unique reference will be available to print.
Send your entries to:
Spirited Arts – NATRE
5-6 Imperial Court
12 Sovereign Road
Please make sure your reference number is on the envelope and all pieces of artwork and the supporting commentaries.
Write ups should be attached to the corresponding artwork (ideally stapled or glued to the reverse) as it is very difficult for us to match them up ourselves.
Each piece of work should be labelled with the pupil name, age, theme and school details.
Entries can be sent digitally to email@example.com – this is particularly useful for digital work such as videos or pieces of music.
Please ensure all file names have the pupil name, age and theme they are entering. For example:
John Smith – age 7 – Where is God
As we receive 1000’s of entries it is very difficult to work with files that are not named with these details.
Supporting resources & ideas
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 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 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 pupils work and open them to parents and the wider community. Some even have attendees select the best 10 entries
- View our free galleries of winning and highly commended art and poetry entries from previous years
- Download our free PowerPoint from Adviser Lat Blaylock to find out all about this year's competition. Inspire your pupils to get creative and choose from this year's brand-new themes
- If you will be working on poetry entries with your pupils, download our examples of different poetry structures, a quick classroom idea for using similes and metaphors and a free article from a previous issue of REtoday magazine: Facing your giants with David and Goliath: Poetry inspired by the heroics of Israel
- Home learning for KS1, KS2 and KS3
Now in its 18th year, Spirited Arts has attracted over 380,000 participants (averaging 20,000 per year!) since 2004, with 2,000 entries being sent in to NATRE each year for judging. Hundreds of UK schools get involved, and we get entries coming from as far a-field as Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand and Bahrain.
We hope you’re excited to be involved this year! We are looking forward to another year of wonderful, inspirational and unique work from your pupils.
Please get in contact if you have further questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register your best 10 entries using the online form and then send them in to us!