Cath Senker wins 2018 Educational Writers’ Award

"Powerful and very special" book about refugees and migrants wins UK's sole award for creative educational writing

The winner of the 2018 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award is FAR FROM HOME: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution and Poverty by Cath Senker, a topical and richly illustrated book which sensitively examines the root causes of mass migrations of people in the 21st century.

The result of this year’s Award – the UK’s only award for creative educational writing – was announced on 4 December 2018 at the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons. Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Secretary presented winning author, Cath Senker with a cheque for £2,000.

Published by Franklin Watts, FAR FROM HOME examines the reasons behind the recent worldwide mass migrations of people due to war, extreme poverty and persecution, explaining some of the specific conflicts, political situations and cultural issues that dominate the headlines surrounding refugees and migrants. It includes first-hand accounts that describe everything from the dangers encountered on migrant journeys and daily life in refugee camps, to encountering hostility, and for some the experience of finding a new home in safe countries.

This year’s judges – Philip Arkinstall, a curriculum leader for History in a Wiltshire secondary school; Elspeth Graham, a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction for children; and Océane Toffoli, a senior school librarian and Vice-Chair of CILIP YLG London– were full of praise for the winning title:

This heart-breaking, powerful and very special book takes a thoughtful and relevant look at a subject we all need to understand and care about. It fully utilises every page, from the maps on the inside covers to the timeline, glossary and further reading section and is extremely readable and accessible for its secondary school audience. Never giving in to media stereotypes, it also provides a clear and compassionate catalyst for discussions about the plight of refugees, highlighting individual experiences and presenting different viewpoints in an impeccably non-judgmental way.

The 2018 Educational Writers’ Award focused on books for 11-18-year-olds, published in 2016 and 2017. FAR FROM HOME beat off strong competition from the four other titles shortlisted for this year’s Award. They were: LOOS SAVE LIVES written by Seren Boyd (Wayland); HOW TO THINK LIKE A CODER written by Jim Christian and illustrated by Paul Boston (Batsford); FROM PREJUDICE TO PRIDE written by Amy Lamé (Wayland); and THE STORY OF PAINTING written and illustrated by Mick Manning & Brita Granström (Franklin Watts).

Now in its eleventh year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by ALCS and the Society of Authors (SoA) “to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications”.

The Society of Authors

The Society of Authors (SoA) is a trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, and has been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. The SoA administers many other prizes for poetry, the short story, fiction and non-fiction, including the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It distributed more than £575,000 in prizes and grants in 2018.