Commonwealth Voices is a Lancashire schools’ Spoken Word Performance Poetry competition.

Designed to inspire young people to voice their vision for a common and brighter future, Commonwealth Voices asks students to consider:

  • What can we do to create a fairer society, a more prosperous economy and a greater sense of security for people?
  • What changes do we need to make, right here and right now, to ensure that our vision for a better future is sustainable for generations to come?
Opening and Closing Dates

The competition opens on 30 January 2018 and closes on 16 March 2018.

Any entries uploaded after midnight on 16 March 2018 will not be considered.

Competition Theme

Commonwealth Voices addresses the Commonwealth 2018 theme: “Towards a Common Future.”

Spoken Word Performance Poetry entries should focus on ONE of the four priorities of the ‘Towards a Common Future’ theme, which are set out below.

We’ve provided some useful prompts below, but students are welcome to explore wider ideas and issues.


A FAIRER FUTURE Think about:

  • What is it like to live somewhere where human rights are violated and rules of law are broken?
  • What would you change to create a fairer future for everyone?
  • How do we create a Commonwealth family where everyone is treated with dignity and has a say in how the Commonwealth community should work?



  • What does being safe mean to you?
  • How can we work together to create a society where everyone can feel valued and safe?
  • How do we achieve peace?



  • Who is responsible for tackling climate change? How do we protect our entrusted land and seas for future generations?
  • How can we help countries who are experiencing / are at risk from the effects of climate change?
  • How can we make our way of living more sustainable?



  • What does a prosperous Commonwealth look like? Healthy, wealthy or happy?
  • How do we improve our quality of life and work?
  • How do we promote trade and investment?
Entry Criteria
  • Entries are only accepted from secondary schools in the county of Lancashire (which covers the areas of Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre).
  • Schools may submit up to six student entries.
  • Students may enter as individuals or as a group. Groups must not have more than 5 members.
  • Students entering the competition must be aged between 11-16yrs (in Years 7-11 at secondary school).
  • Students and at least one member of school staff must be available on the evening of Wednesday 18 April 2018 (in case entrants are shortlisted to perform in the live final at the Lancashire Civic Leaders’ Commonwealth Celebration Event).
Video Submissions
  • Spoken word poem entries must address the Competition Theme.
  • All entries must be performed by the student(s) who devised them.
  • Videos should not be more than 3 minutes.
  • Videos must be filmed in landscape format in the highest available definition (ideally 720-1080p).
  • Videos may be filmed with a camera, or a phone, as long as audio quality is clear.
  • Recorded/instrumental music is not permitted, but students can use beatbox, rap, MC-ing, polyvocal (more than one voice at a time) and acapella (singing without musical accompaniment).
  • Video entries must be uploaded to YouTube. Please ensure the privacy settings for the video are set to unlisted. Unlisted videos can only be viewed by people who are sent a direct link (URL) to them – this will ensure privacy. If you are setting up a YouTube account for your school, please note you can upload multiple videos to the same account and each video will generate a unique link. Instructions on how to upload a YouTube video from a computer or mobile device can be found here.
  • Once video entries are uploaded to YouTube, schools must complete the online submission form on the competition website, where they will be asked to provide a link to each entrant’s unlisted YouTube video.
Terms and Conditions
  • A school can submit a maximum of six student entries.
  • Students can only enter the competition once, either as an individual or as part of a group.
  • Entries must be exclusively for this competition – students must not have performed the spoken word poem anywhere else before, shared it on social media, or made it available to the public.
  • Entries must be entirely students’ own work. Plagiarism checks will be undertaken for all shortlisted videos.
  • The use of profanities will result in automatic disqualification.
  • The school will retain all copyright rights in relation to the video, but (with the permission of parent(s)/carer(s)) will need to grant us exclusive publishing rights to the video for the duration of the competition.
  • The school will need to gather consent for each student’s name, image and video to potentially be used in promotional, advertising and marketing materials, including in the local press, local radio and on the competition website. Schools must complete the Commonwealth Voices Consent Form. The named school contact will be responsible for obtaining all permissions necessary from the school and parents/carers of the students participating before submitting entries. Proof of relevant consent will be requested for shortlisted finalists.
  • We reserve the right to publish, or not to publish, any of the submitted videos.
  • All entries will be considered by a shortlisting panel made up of people from diverse professions and backgrounds. This will ensure a fair and rounded judging process.
  • Shortlisting will take place during the week commencing 19 March 2018.
  • 6 finalists will be selected, and their names will be announced on the competition website on Thursday 22 March 2018.
Selecting the Winner

All finalists must be available to perform at the Live Final at the Lancashire Civic Leaders’ Commonwealth Celebration Event on Wednesday 18 April 2018, from 6.00-9.00pm. Any shortlisted entrants who are not able to perform will forfeit their right to take part in the competition.

The winner will be selected by a panel of esteemed judges, based solely on the quality of their performance during the event. Poems will be judged on originality, clarity of communication, creativity and performance.

1st place – £600
2nd place – £300
3rd place – £200
A trophy and certificate will be awarded for the top three performances.

1st place performer(s) will win a 10” Android Tablet
2 runners-up will receive an 8” Android Tablet

Each winner will also have their performance showcased on our competition website and social media.

Don’t forget to read our Competition FAQ before you enter.

Supported By

Lancashire Lieutenancy Logo
Lancashire County Council Logo
Blackburn with Darwen Logo
Blackpool Council Logo