Prizes, Schools History Prize, Schools History Prize Winners, Teacher Resources


Celebrating History’s Heroines: Prize Winners

 Our theme for this year was “History’s Heroines”. We challenged students to research the history of a woman whom they consider to be a hero and produce a piece of art representing that woman and her accomplishments.

We had some truly amazing entries at both junior and senior level, which spanned ancient through to modern history. It was very difficult for the Steering Committee to judge; we were so impressed with all of the wonderful and thoughtful designs! The winners of the competition will see their design featured on future WHN merchandise.

Senior Category Winner: ‘Hypatia’

The winning entry in the senior category was an acrylic and ink painting of Hypatia of Alexandria. The student designed the piece to reflect both Hypatia’s work and death:

‘’An acrylic and ink painting of Hypatia’s bust being cracked by a thrown stone (which is similar to how Hypatia died). The bust breaks apart and the pieces blend into the stars, reflecting Hypatia’s interest in astronomy.’

 The student explained why they felt that Hypatia should be considered one of History’s Heroines:

‘’What people know about Hypatia is mostly a myth, constructed by millennia of male historians, reinterpreting her original forgotten life…What little we know for sure, is that Theon of Alexandria was her father, she was an immensely popular teacher and, most of all, she was brutally murdered… From this, we see that what Hypatia is actually famous for is the relations she had, and the violence she suffered from men, not what she herself achieved…As such, Hypatia is a perfect example of one of “Histories Heroines”. She represents countless women throughout history who have had their stories altered; they were solely remembered due to their relationships with men, for the satisfaction of other men, eventually losing all essence of the women themselves.’’

 The Steering Committee were very impressed with the entry and we are sure that everyone will agree that this is a worthy winner!

Joint Junior Winner: ‘We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants’

By Georgina Hawkins, Millfield Preparatory School, Somerset

Georgina submitted this thought provoking and wonderfully designed piece. The Steering Committee were extremely impressed by Georgina’s explanation of how she came up with this eye-catching design: ’I wanted to tell you about how I came up with the design. The more I researched and thought about an individual woman, the more I realised there are so many people who have contributed to improving women’s lives…I have not included specific names because the more I researched, the more I realised that there have been many, many individuals from a variety of backgrounds and in all kinds of areas of expertise. It would be unfair and misleading to pick out just one. So rather than names I decided to add different fields of endeavour. ‘’

 Georgina clearly spent a lot of time thinking about this years competition – we are so glad to see that our young researchers found this years topic so thought provoking: ‘’I deliberately included male figures because I want to acknowledge the role men have played and will continue to play in progressing equality of all kinds, including gender. This is important because equality in all endeavours is not the responsibility of women alone. I also deliberately included homemaking as I feel it is an important area of society that is overlooked and undervalued. I have really enjoyed doing this and even though it turned out not to be about one woman, I hope you enjoy it too!’’

The Steering Committee did enjoy looking at your entry Georgina – well done!

Joint Junior Winner: ‘A Fight on Many Fronts’

By Léïla Benkhaled, Craneswater Junior School, Portsmouth

Leila was inspired by her own African heritage and created this wonderfully vibrant painting to reflect the many ways that African women have fought for equality: ’I am Algerian and British, and the first woman on my poster is also Algerian. Her name is Fadela Mesli and she was training to be a nurse when she joined the Algerian Revolution in 1954-1962. Her family didn’t think that it was the job of a woman to be in a war so she had to run away to join the fighters in the mountains. ‘’

Leila wanted to express the diverse experiences of the fight for equality across Africa, and the Steering Committee all agree that she did a fantastic job! The image includes famous figures from the arts and from industry, as well as the military: ‘’ I have drawn Miriam Makeba who was a famous singer during Apartheid. On her dress she has the lyrics to the song ‘Soweto blues’. She wrote this song about when the white South Africans wanted to impose their language – Afrikaans – on all black school children in 1976…In her song she uses the original languages of South Africa to show that she will not use the white South Africans’ language. I think writing a song about it is as powerful as fighting…

Finally, I have drawn more anonymous yet just as brave women. These are Senegalese and Malian women who participated in the Dakar-Bamako railway line strike in 1947-1948…The women had to walk miles and miles to provide food for their families and neighbours as well as protesting. Though not in vain, as the workers finally got their rights equalled!’’

Well done Leila!

Highly Commended: ‘Ada Lovelace’

By Scarlett Harrison-Mirauer, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Elstree

Scarlett’s entry was very popular amongst the Steering Committee and so we felt that it deserved a highly commended spot. wanted to highlight the significance of Ava Lovelace’s contribution to mathematics: ‘’I wanted to investigate a woman from history who made an important discovery of something that she might not have been recognised as much for at the time. Ava Lovelace was interested in maths from an early age. She came up with an important algorithm which is related to the computers we know today. ‘’

Scarlett explained why she felt that Ava Lovelace is one of History’s Heroines: ‘’There are not many women recognised in science…so it is important to learn about people like Ava Lovelace. I think she is one of History’s Heroines because she did work in a mainly man’s field and was successful in her own right, showing women can be successful in these areas of work too, and she made important discoveries we should not forget. Also, it is interesting that computing is not something as modern as people would have you believe, it is actually a lot older than modern times and Ava Lovelace’s work helped later inventors to create the computers we all rely on now.’’

Well-done Scarlett! We hope that you enjoyed researching this fascinating area of women’s history.

Honourable Mentions

Florence Nightingale, by George Denning, Trinity Academy, Middleton Tyas

George explained why he considers Florence Nightingale to be one of History’s Heroines:’Florence Nightingale helped a lot of soldiers in the war. She stayed until the end until they all got better and went back to their homes. The new hospitals have been called Nightingale after Florence. She was a very good nurse who opened a training school for nurses. She made the hospitals better by training nurses and making sure they knew what to do and how to keep the hospitals clean and look after the soldiers. It is important for us to know about Florence because hospitals wouldn’t work as well without her.’’

Thank you for your lovely entry George!

Dorothy Thompson, by Darcy Clare

Thank you, Darcy, we thought that your artwork was great!  We hope that you enjoyed researching the life pf Dorothy Thompson.

Amelia Earhart, by Yasmin and Zahra Beattie, Towerbank Primary School, Edinburgh

Well done to Zahra and Yasmin for this well-constructed piece! Yasmin and Zahra explained why they believe Amelia Earhart is one of History’s Heroines:

‘Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) is a heroine because she was the first ever women to fly around the world. Unfortunately her aeroplane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and was never found ever again.’’

Anne Frank, by Lily Draper, Helsby High School, Cheshire

Lily painted a fantastic portrait, and the Steering Committee were extremely impressed with how well she captured the likeness of Anne Frank.  Lily went on to explain why she considers Anne Frank to be one of History’s Heroines:

‘’I consider Anne Frank a hero because she inspired many to look at the positive things in life, even at the bleakest of times, as she said, ‘I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.’ To think that she went through all that she did and still managed to inspire others is amazing! Her diary also has a lot of useful information about living as a Jew in WW2. Just because she didn’t save lives or come up with a new scientific theory, doesn’t mean she isn’t a Hero.’’

Well said Lily!

Rosa Parks Battle, by Freya Brotherton, New Invention Junior School, Willenhall

Freya wanted to celebrate Rosa Parks by paying homage to the Montgomery bus boycott.  For Freya, it is clear why Rosa is one of History’s Heroines:

‘’Without Rosa Parks standing up and refusing to give up her seat it would not have given the black community the strength to stand against segregation and move forward with equality. Although there was a huge movement at the time, these were mainly by ‘leading’ individuals, whereas Rosa Parks was a seamstress and had no political understanding or leadership. The handling of the situation also proved to be a reason the movement gained power and led to segregation being demolished.’’

Well done Freya.

The Steering Committee would once again like to thank all of the young researchers who entered.