For Birmingham schools who have taken part in the Next Generation Awards 2023 this year it was an evening where finalists presented passionate ideas to change the face of their community for the better and it was the hottest ticket in town!

An evening where young local talent showcases their ideas to improve society, stimulate creativity, connect with each other and their wider community, nurture their appetite for positive change and showcase their business and marketing skills in the hope of winning £1500 to put their idea into a real working project and improve the lives of local people in their corner of the city.

The award scheme is an assessed project-based program for 11-14-year-olds run within Birmingham Schools. It is an inclusive project which is great for developing pupils’ skills in team-working, ICT, presentation, creative writing and problem solving, and helps the pupils in Birmingham to become active citizens that contribute positively to future of our city.

The award ceremony took place at Highbury Hall, Moseley on October 12th. Over 100 people attended including students, staff, parents, friends, business leaders, B’ham Civic society members, The Lord Mayor’s Deputy, Honorary Alderman Mike Leddy.

Judges, Indi Deol is the Founding Director of DESIblitz, the UK’s largest online British Asian magazine Peter Jones, Enterprise Sales & Marketing Manager in the IT Learning & Development sector, Andrew Edgar who is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies Birmingham Newman University and Justine Marklew, Education, Engagement and Outdoors Manager at Moor Pool Heritage Trust.

Finalists, all between the ages of 11-14 had been whittled down to five teams including Harborne Academy, King Edward VI Northfield School for Girls, Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Colmers School and Sixth Form College, and King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys who had already been through a tough judging process including many schools across the city over 12-months to make their Gold Award winning presentations to the panel.

There is always so much at stake for each team and the atmosphere in the hall was electrifying, full of nervous energy and anticipation.

Every team had six minutes to present their ideas, to the judges. Every year the judges are so excited to watch the presentations, celebrate the great talent from Generation Z, always bringing their A-game, it’s a huge responsibility to judge such amazing raw talent.

This year ideas included, Bishop Vesey Grammar School taking on the alarming issue of County Lines, where young vulnerable people are used by drug dealers in major cities to carry, to store and to sell drugs. The school was working in partnership with West Midlands Police and wanted to use business cards to relay the message of the dangers of County lines to children and teenagers in the hope that their message could make young people think and stop before joining these gangs and putting themselves in grave danger.

Harborne Academy had been so alarmed by the rate of street robbery in their local area they were determined to tackle the subject with their project, ‘Five ways to Pass.’ By designing a five-point plan of how to be safe when walking in the street with particular-emphasis on young people walking to and from school. A particular-hotspot for street robbery is the Five ways underpass and Harborne Academy wanted a memorable piece of art work commissioned and drawn on the wall of the underpass by a local graffiti artist with a message about street crime and keeping safe, Understanding, that visual language has great impact and that the constant reminder through a large eye-catching piece of graffiti would be an eye catching visual reminder of how to keep safe on the streets.


Colmers School, and Sixth Form College passion was sustainability and recycling and their aim was big –  to reduce plastic and paper waste within their school and save up to £20,000 year. Their aim was to think big, but start small and be realistic, allowing the project to grow year on year, as the school and its pupils became more passionate about sustainability through positive affirmative action. They had researched how the school could save thousands of pounds a year with a program of recycling paper and plastic, providing all students with refillable drinks holders and recycling bins across school premises.


King Edward VI Northfield School for Girls, took on another controversial and emotive issue – knife crime. Watching the news and seeing so many young people becoming victims of knife crime the team wanted to get a message out to the younger generation to discourage them from carrying knives, thinking knives were cool, or feeling under pressure to conceal a knife for their own safety while on the streets. A tricky and sometimes scary subject matter to discus with nine to 11-year-olds, but through social events, social media messaging and young people nurturing younger people was a subject they wanted to explore seriously and change perceptions, through vrius mediums including a Rap song.


The final school in the competition, King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, was one where they embraced the natural world and working towards saving part of it. Taking their inspiration from lockdown and the vital one hour we all had to enjoy nature the team were determined to help the shrinking bird population, with their, ‘Bring Back the Birds,’ campaign in their local area. By educating the local community about the importance of nature and supporting local wildlife as much as they could. Providing individual pupils, along with local family’s bird boxes and bird feel to put in their gardens. But it wasn’t about just preserving wildlife, but enjoying wildlife too. The team understood how the outdoors, connecting with nature and watching birds in your garden had a positive impact on mental health. Promoting the idea of connecting with nature could and would diffuse anxiety and have a positive effect on our emotional wellbeing.

The ‘Newman Prize’ of £1500 and a mentor/mentors to bring their project to life as well as taking home the Next Generation Award Shield.

As the final team left the stage and the judges left the room to deliberate there was a tension building in the air. It was a great opportunity for dedicated trustees of Birmingham Civic Society to explain how the BCS charity supports Birmingham and showcased all the great work it does in heritage, planning, public art, environment and Citizenship.

BCS has been running this NGA program for nineteen years and has assisted over 35,000 young people to become active citizens interested in developing their city.

The Next Generation Awards Program is run by The Birmingham Civic Society with kind support from Birmingham Newman University, Professional Polishing Services Ltd, and many local trusts and foundations.

After, what seemed like a very long 30-minites the judges returned with the name of the winning team in hand.

Peter Jones NGA Finals 2023, Chair of the Judges  explained to a captive audience, ‘The panel and I were treated to an evening of high quality presentations covering a range of important community challenges. All the teams successfully demonstrated to everyone present, an acute awareness and knowledge of their chosen issue supported by meaningful and well considered solutions to tackle that issue (Street Robbery, County Lines, Urban Bird Boxes, Knife Crime, Recycling). This years standards of teamwork, presentation skills, use of media and research was particularly high and not at all easy to separate for us as judges. Consequentially, this caused much debate amongst the judging panel resulting in an extra-long deliberation. We whole heartedly want to thank every team, their school, parents and supporters for participating and contributing to a great event. Please be very proud of the work done to this point and continue that work if possible. 

We the judges decided that the winning team and presentation showed a higher degree of originality, creativity and impact, their authentic message was simple but piercing, making it memorable and easily transferable. The judges also agreed that Birmingham Newman University’s generous donation of prize money and project support would take this project and presentation to another level. We wish King Edwards VI Northfield School for Girls every success with their ‘Drop the Knife’ project and look forward to seeing the finished article in full swing.’  

To say the cheers from the winning team were almost deafening was an understatement!

With tears, cheers, and giggles the team sprinted to the podium to be presented with their £1500.00 cheque, their shield, their medals and huge congratulations from the Lord Mayor’s Deputy, Honorary Alderman, Mike Leddy while there was rapturous applause and cheers from the audience.

Members of the winning team said: ‘‘To win is just amazing, it’s mind blowing for us. We hope that our message outlasts our time at school and can be carried through year on year to children who quickly realise it’s not cool to carry a knife. Hearing about victims of knife crime affects us all, no parent wants their child to go through that and no child wants to walk the street scared! We want to change things for the better with a positive and inspiring message – so watch this space!

 Ms. Mohand, lead teacher on the project says: ‘I’m incredibly proud of the students, they’ve have so worked hard and invested so much time on this project.  Their determination and passion to get the message out there is inspiring. It’s so important that young people get involved and what to do something positive about these important issues that affect their peers. When the students decided that their subject was knife crime, I was worried about a very sensitive topic, but the way the girls worked with the subject, creatively and reaching out to a younger audience has been amazing. We all look forward to seeing their project grow into a reality over the next few months.

Stephanie Bloxham, Incoming Chair and Chair of Citizenship committee, Birmingham Civic Society, commented; The finals are such a special occasion to showcase our young active citizens within Birmingham’s secondary schools. We know how much effort the teams put into the programme throughout the competition and reaching the finals is something that all pupils and teachers should be proud of.  Well done to all of the finalist teams for their fantastic presentations and huge congratulations to the winners! We very much look forward to seeing this important initiative being developed through the prize and mentoring.”

So, now the hard work starts and we will be following and documenting the team’s journey from here until it’s completion. It’s an exciting time to watch an impassioned group of young people want to make such positive and dramatic difference to their world – a world which they hope to make safer and more secure for the next generation,…. and the one after that….and the one after that….

On the evening of the NGA’s 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’

Bellfield Junior School

The Jewellery Quarter Academy

City of Birmingham School

St Georges School, Edgbaston

King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys

Eden Girls Leadership Academy Birmingham

The Next Generation Awards introduced:

A huge thank you to Jo Dunlop, Next Generation Awards Project Manager who has been the driving force behond the success of the Next Genration Awards. Working diligently all year round to showcase the best young talent in schools across Birmingham, that ultimatley changes communities for the better year on year.  The Birmingham Civic Society is proud of Jo’s fantastic work over the 19-year that the  Next Generation Awards (NGA) has been running. Working with more than 35,000 young people with the objective to promoting the concept of active citizenship among young people from all backgrounds in the city. This year the Next Generation Awards Scheme has been made possible with kind support from –

Birmingham Newman University, Professional Polishing Services Ltd and the generosity of a number of local Birmingham charitable trusts & foundations including The Dulverton Trust, The Baron Davenports Charity, The Grimmit Trust, The George Henry Collins Charity, The Edward & Dorothy Cadbury Charitable Trust, The Roughley Trust, The Limoges Charitable Trust, The Roger & Douglas Turner Trust, The GJW Turner Trust, The Harry Payne Trust – Heart of England Community Foundation and The WE Dunn Charitable Trust.

 If you would like to become a member of the Birmingham Civic Society, support our work, or even consider becoming a trustee please email –  or go to: