SQA publishes Write Times 2: a celebration of our candidates' brilliant writing

Young writers Michelle Musyoka, Mahee Mustafa, and Hannah Cowieson, are pictured with John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister, and Cabinet Secretary for Education, and Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive

SQA has published a brand new collection of creative writing, produced by students from across Scotland who have completed English courses over the past year.

The new book, Write Times 2, is an anthology of essays, prose, poetry, and drama written by SQA candidates as part of their English courses at National, Higher, and Advanced Higher level, and also includes selected work from students who have achieved the Creative Industries: Media and Communication Higher National Certificate at college.

The book has received the backing of a number of renowned writers; among them Scots Makar Jackie Kay; journalist turned novelist Anna Smith; dramatist and artistic director of the Tron Theatre, Andy Arnold; and broadcaster Kaye Adams.

Writing in her introduction to the poetry section of Write Times 2, Jackie Kay says: “Here’s a fantastic selection of poetry – ambitious, inspiring and very moving, these poems clearly demonstrate the instinctive power of poetry. They revel in great insight, and give me faith and hope for the future.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has offered her support for the project. The First Minister writes in the book: “Now, more than ever, it is important for young people to be able to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas with confidence. It is heartening to see the young writers in Write Times 2 engaging with the issues facing us, and giving their views with such thoughtfulness, intelligence and sensitivity.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney writes in the book: “Write Times 2 gives us examples of writing from young people producing fantastic work for their SQA assessments, at various stages of their development: from National 3, 4, and 5 through to Higher and Advanced Higher and Higher National qualifications.”

Hannah, Michelle, and Mahee are pictured with their copies of Write Times 2

Among the young authors to have their work collected in the book is Mahee Mustafa, from Glasgow, whose poem about his Indian grandfather was selected for the evocative images it created.

Another highlight comes from Dundee student Hannah Cowieson, who projects the real-life consequences of Cinderella’s rendezvous with a fairy godmother, and the implications of her manufactured meeting with Prince Charming, challenging the very notion of ‘Happily Ever After’. 

Meanwhile, Michelle Musyoka, who attends Eastwood High School in Renfrewshire, used her discursive essay in her National 5 English course to reflect upon her parents’ decision to expose her to both Kenyan, and Scottish influences as part of her cultural upbringing, allowing her to make her own decisions about her individual identity.

Orla Davey, a pupil from St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston, used her National 5 English writing assignment to challenge the notion that teenagers are all in favour of social media, and championed the simple pleasures of spending time with a good book; while Buckie High School pupil Katie Wilson used the Doric dialect native to the north east of Scotland to write a touching essay about the bond of friendship between her and her younger sister.

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “We’ve compiled the very best creative writing demonstrated by SQA candidates from across the country. Our young writers have used poetry, and prose, drama and non-fiction, discursive writing to great effect, to convey their ideas and emotions, their hopes and beliefs. The works we’ve reproduced in Write Times 2 are a fantastic testament to the effort these young authors, and the work they have put into achieving their qualifications. They are also a fabulous learning recourse, and copies of Write Time 2 will be issued to every school and college in the country.”

Hospitality students from Edinburgh College made delicious Scottish tablet for guests to enjoy at the Write Times 2 launch event. 

The publication of Write Times 2 is part of SQA’s commitment to celebrating Year of Young People 2018, celebrating the achievements of young people, and showcasing their talents. Copies of Write Times 2 will be sent to every school and college across the country. A free e-book version is also available to download now on compatible devices.