What a night, celebrating the Next Generation Award (NGA) finals 2021/2022 at Highbury Hall, Moseley, Birmingham. Seeing so many students from secondary schools across the city present amazing ideas for projects to benefit their local community was truly inspiring.

The room was full of so much creativity and passion, from so many young people. The atmosphere crackling with excitement and anticipation from pupils, proud parents and teachers, judges and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham – Councillor Maureen Cornish.

The 5 finalists:
King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls.

Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School.

King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy.

Colmers School and Sixth Form College.

King Edward VI Northfield School for Girls.

All showed us their ‘A’ game throughout the night. Knowing that this would be their opportunity to make their ideas become a reality and to have a potentially compelling impact on the people they know and respect within their local community.

All the projects clearly demonstrated high levels of research, teamwork, due consideration, organisation and articulation. The topics chosen were very personal to the students and to their school. Wanting to make such a profound difference to their communities meant the stakes were very high as all the projects showed amazing insight, creativity, pragmatism and passion.

One after the other the teams of pupils approached the stage and gave impassioned pleas, in hope that their gold award winning presentation would be enough. The captivated audience were treated to Introductions, Problems, Facts & Stats, Budgets, Resolutions and Visions of the future of how they would improve the lives of the people in their local community with their inspiring project and the funding to be awarded. Each presentation was given a rapturous round of applause, rightfully deserved.


King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls, Year 9.

‘Tutor the future’

A project that would support and encourage reading within their local community, especially in primary schools and undertaking regular out-reach activities to support primary school teachers and instilling a sense of imagination and wonder in the magic of books.

Colmers School and 6th Form College, Year 9

‘Anti-litter campaign’

Aiming to make their school and local environment a more pleasant place to spend time in by cleaning up the area, educating local people and school pupils that it is not ok to drop litter. Providing more bins, litter pickers and high visibility jackets for their dedicated volunteers that the team would recruit themselves.

King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy


Collecting unwanted school uniform, cleaning and ironing it and re-distributing it to the local community and the most-needy at a time when uniform prices are at a premium, the cost of living crisis is biting and sustainability is the key.

King Edward VI Northfield School for Girl’s

‘The Reading Project’

Encouraging reading across Birmingham, a programme that motivates children to pick up and review a book, share their enthusiasm and knowledge with their peer groups. Helping children to reduce their reliance on technology and electronic devices in favour of regularly reading a book. Creating reading hubs in schools by building up a reliable volunteer cohort to visit schools within the local area to promote and assist with the reading programme.

King Edward Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School’s, Year 9

Support the homeless in Birmingham’

Understanding that homelessness is a huge issue in the city centre. Devising a map at Grand Central train station and the Birmingham Bull Ring shopping centre with directions and walking distance to the closest homeless shelters.  Signposting individuals on the street to a warmer safer and more secure place to stay and get support.

The Birmingham Civic Society (BCS) have been running the Next Generation Awards scheme and supporting similar projects like those highlighted for 17-years. We have encouraged over 33,000 young people (approx. 2000 every year) to become active citizens and demonstrate their enthusiasm for making our city a better place for all.

NGA is an assessed based project scheme run within Birmingham Schools for pupils aged 11-14-year-olds. The scheme aims to promote inclusivity, diversity as well as develop pupils in team work, ICT, presentation skills, creative writing, problem solving and creative thinking.

For the participating finalists the stakes were high with the award of £1500.00 (generously donated by Newman University) and continued mentoring support given to the winning team, allowing their projects to become a reality.

The task of selecting the winning project was given to the team of judges made up of:

Chris Whittington – Education Law Team Lead at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP.

Alison John – Director of Communications and Marketing at Newman University, Birmingham.

Kavan Hawker – Member of The Birmingham Civic Society Citizen Committee.

The judges asked the pupils a series of questions relating to the selection of their project, inspirations, observations and initial feedback.

One answer in particular got the panel and the audience chattering. Apparently Colmers School and Sixth Form College had used the skills of a bird of prey – a kestrel, along with its handler in the fight against litter. The kestrel’s natural predatory skills proved to be an excellent solution in scaring away pigeons in the battle against rubbish and waste food strewn on our streets!

As the judges left the room to deliberate, what remained was a sense of anticipation and a unanimous feeling that every project and every school was a winner. But like many competitions there could only be one winner. The judges announced it was King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy’s ‘Re-Uniform,’ project that won the day.

Following the huge round of applause and cheers from the audience and fellow competitors, Chris Whittington of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP and chair of the judging panel commented: “It was a privilege and an absolute delight to chair the panel of judges at this year’s NGAs and watch the finalists deliver their excellent presentations. We chose the Re-Uniform project because of the valuable support it will offer fellow pupils and their families, underpinned by its good planning and clear focus on sustainability. Well done to all the teams who took part in this year’s NGAs! If anyone is looking for a source of hope for a more caring, community-minded future, you only need to look at these young people.”

Pupils Millie, Natasha, Jaymee-Leigh, school teacher Mrs Nijjar and Headmaster Mr McGarvey beamed from ear to ear as the pupils were presented with the winning commemorative shield and a cheque for £1500.00.

When asked “what it meant to be named winners”, Natasha said: “We are speechless, absolutely speechless, it means everything to us to be able to pursue this project and make a difference to people struggling right now and in the future. We can’t wait to get started”

We wish them the very best of luck and will be following their progress.

The impact this project will have on the community will be immeasurable. At a time when money is tight, there is sometimes a very difficult choice between heat or eat, coupled with a new school year bringing feelings of dread and despair to many families who struggle to afford the rising cost of school uniforms.

The winning project also addresses the very serious problem of landfill and a throw-away society that continues to plough tonnes of unwanted but perfectly wearable clothes into the rubbish bins all over the country. It may be a small step to sustainability, but these small steps leave large footprints. Ultimately, when generation ‘Z’ are telling us we need to change our ways and quickly, to address the financial crisis, long-term poverty, sustainability and community cohesion – we need to start listening!

Schools that took part, but were unable to attend on the evening:

Nishkam High School

Hodge Hill Girls School

St George’s School Edgbaston

King Edward VI Aston School

Wheelers Lane Technology College

On the night, The Birmingham Civic Society also awarded ‘School Stars’. An initiative which recognises and celebrates truly fantastic work done by Birmingham’s primary and secondary schools across the city to help those in real need in their communities. Pupils from the following schools were recognised and asked to come up to receive their ‘School Stars Award’ from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham – Councillor Maureen Cornish

Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School

Bishop Vasey’s Grammar School

Holy Trinity Catholic School

We would like to thank the following organisations for their fantastic support and commitment. Without it The Birmingham Civic Society Next Generation Awards wouldn’t be possible.

Newman University, Aston University, Professional Polishing Services Ltd, and the generosity of a number of local Birmingham Charitable trusts and foundations including The Limoges Charitable Trust, The Roger & Douglas Turner Trust,   The Harry Payne Fund – Heart of England Community Foundation, The Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Charitable Trust, WE Dunn Charitable Trust, The Grimmit Trust, Baron Davenport’s Charity,  The Eric W Vincent Trust, GJW Turner Trust and the George Henry Collins Charity. 

Any secondary school within Birmingham can enter the Next Generation Awards. To express your interest and request all the resources, email us for details atnextgenerationawards@googlemail.com