BBC Student Critics

Challenge your students to join the judges of the BBC National Short Story Award to read and critique exciting new fiction by taking part in this year’s BBC Student Critics with Cambridge University.

Aimed at 16-18 year-olds, BBC Student Critics allows students to flex their critical muscles by reading, listening, discussing and critiquing the stories shortlisted for the annual BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University.

Taking place each year in September, BBC Student Critics can form a fun introductory or bridging unit for the beginning of the school year. Read the BBC National Short Story Award shortlisted stories, discuss them as a group, choose your favourites, and then host a listening party to hear the winner announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

The 2021 winner has been announced!

‘All the People Were Mean and Bad’ by Lucy Caldwell has been announced as the winner of the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award.

But it’s not too late to read, listen and discuss this year’s five shortlisted stories, and see if you agree with the judges’ decision! Find out more about this year’s shortlist, and listen to the stories online.

Download our BBC Student Critics shortlist discussion guide to get you started on thinking and talking about this year’s stories.

Check out our full range of resources below, which are tailored to facilitate critical thinking around the BBC National Short Story Award and to help you get the most out of Student Critics - including a teacher’s guide, an introduction to reading short stories, and a booklet with more award-winning stories to read and discuss.

Why take part?

Participating students will have the opportunity to read and listen critically, gain an understanding of the short story form, develop skills in literary criticism, build confidence and encounter a diverse range of exciting new writing.

Student Critics addresses key learning objectives in English literature and English language, as well as developing communication and critical thinking skills.

Whether in the classroom or as an extra-curricular activity, it can be led by teachers or librarians, or students can work independently with more light-touch support. There are lots of ideas and resources to help you make Student Critics your own, and decide how you want to take part.

Groups are also encouraged to make links within their communities through involving parents or carers, other local schools or colleges, bookshops and libraries.

Please note that the shortlisted stories for the BBC National Short Story Award may contain adult themes.

See below for a selection of BBC Student Critics resources

Shortlist Discussion Guide 2021
Listen to the shortlisted stories
Reading short stories
Four short stories
Student Critics teacher guide
Try these short stories
BBC Young Writers' Award - Teaching Resources