DRAMA students from The Willink School bagged a £1,000 prize for their school following an acclaimed performance in the Thames Valley Police annual drama competition.
The competition, run in partnership with West Berkshire Council, is linked to the Government’s counter terrorism strategy, Prevent, and asked students to perform plays they had created on the theme of radicalisation.
Budding actors from Kennet, Trinity, The Willink and Denefield schools took part in the 10th annual competition, in which they had to use drama to demonstrate not only why radicalisation happens and why it must be treated seriously, but also why people can become vulnerable to it.
The students faced scrutiny from a panel of judges from West Berkshire Council, Thames Valley Police and The Watermill theatre, who marked them on their ability to include as many points from the brief as possible.
West Berkshire Council’s executive member for children and young people, Lynne Doherty, said: “Congratulations to The Willink for producing a great play.
“This year’s topic is certainly one of the most challenging.
“It required in-depth knowledge around the subject of radicalisation and where it can lead.
“It also required a great deal of human interest and empathy to create a performance that incorporated all of the points required by the judges.
“Radicalisation is a complex subject for people of any age and I am impressed that these schools chose to rise to this challenge.”
Chief Insp Lindsey Finch, of Thames Valley Police, said: “The crime reduction drama competition encourages pupils across West Berkshire to research a topic which is relevant to them and the community.
“This year’s Prevent topic enabled pupils to explore potential factors that could make people susceptible to extremist views and being influenced and what to do should they have concerns about a fellow pupil.
“Over the past 10 years, we have seen outstanding, inventive and hard-hitting performances on tough subjects, such as alcohol misuse, healthy relationships and hate crime, and continue to be impressed by the exceptional quality of the material produced and the work that goes into it.
“The plays are performed at school assemblies, which provide a unique opportunity to send vital messages to their peers, and again at the Corn Exchange where families and friends can see the fruits of their labour.”
The winning play from The Willink pupils meant the school’s drama department was awarded a £1,000 prize.
Drama pupil at The Willink School, Bea Cottee, said: “I feel immense pride, not just because we won, but because I feel we have made a difference to our communities and helped educate our peers.”
Fellow performer Oliver Brown added: “I have learnt so much from taking part in this project and I hope all those that watched our performance have taken something from it too.”