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The English-Speaking Union, Patron HM Queen Elizabeth II and President HRH The Princess Royal, was formed out of the Great War with a vision to foster understanding between peoples and communities through the use of the English language. It is both a uniquely qualified and truly contemporary operator in debate training and persuasive speech outreach work in the UK, and beyond. The ESU’s programmes enable people to develop speaking, listening and reasoning skills and our work inspires and empowers people of all ages to discover their voice and become confident, articulate participants in civic society. This agenda is coupled with a worldwide programme of cross-generational education scholarships which places the English-Speaking Union in the van of   thinkers, deliverers and facilitators in creating life-changing educational opportunities for people whatever their age and social background.

The ESU is marking the anniversary celebrations for the sealing of the Magna Carta in significant fashion and with a variety of major partnerships.

My Magna Carta

Submissions are now closed

My Magna Carta was an international creative essay competition for 11 to 18 year olds to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. Young people in the UK and across the ESU’s member countries in the Commonwealth and across the world were invited to create their very own Magna Carta for the 21st century. The competition was also open to entrants from other Commonwealth countries.

(Pictured: Sir Robert Worcester, with the continental winners. Click for a larger view.)

Taking the Magna Carta as their source document, the world’s youth were tasked to present a new document that safeguards and promotes the rights, privileges and liberties of either their own country or the whole world. As in the original document, entrants needed to give particular thought to the powers of presidents, prime ministers and monarchs that need to be limited. Entrants were encouraged to draw lessons from recent national and international events.

This exercise was predominantly creative, but also required a degree of academic understanding of the history, contents, and significance of the 1215 document. The ESU therefore provided links to teaching resources to introduce the topic to young people.

Entrants represented their Magna Carta as a written piece. Video readings of the entry were also accepted but as an augmentation of the written entry. The top 2 entries from national finals were submitted to the ESU Central panel for judging. Continent winners [plus the UK winner] were invited to a Magna Carta Celebration Gala on the 15th October at the ESU HQ in London to present their entry to a live audience. The event was live streamed worldwide to allow the participants’ host communities [amongst others] to witness the presentation and join in the subsequent questioning of the presenter.

More than 100 nations were eligible to enter this competition. For the full listing, and for more information about the project, click here.

Click here to read the competition entries.

The final winners were:

Junior – Jane Josefowicz (USA)
Senior – Mfundo Radebe (South Africa)

The continent winners of both the junior and senior age categories were:

Junior – Kayseka Geerjanan (Mauritius)
Senior – Mfundo Radebe (South Africa)

Junior – Xue-Ern Neo (Malaysia)
Senior – Fathima Nifra (Sri Lanka)

Junior – Ella McEvoy (Australia)
Senior – Jack Donnelly (Australia)

Junior – Marie Georgette Spiteri (Malta)
Senior – Sofija Jovanovic (Serbia)

South America
Junior – Valentina Errazuriz (Chile)
Senior – Rocio Lopez (Chile)

North America
Junior – Jane Josefowicz (USA)
Senior – Isabelle McMullen (USA)

Junior – Laura White (Uxbridge)
Senior – Alice Wilson (Herefordshire)

*The UK was treated as a separate continent for the purposes of the competition.

My Magna Carta: The Constitutional Voice of Tomorrow

We are also pleased to announce a legacy project entitled My Magna Carta: The Constitutional Voice of Tomorrow, which will give the winning entries a further international platform. Utilising the existing My Magna Carta website we will reproduce some of the very best submissions together with short clips from the final event itself, as a way of highlighting key themes discussed by entrants around the globe. Through digital distribution we will allow more young people to access these resources, and develop and discuss their own ideas about some of the most important issues of the 21st Century.

The Magna Moot

The ESU began its programme to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta with a friendly Moot competition between ESU and Inner Temple invitation teams on Monday 27 October. The Liberty Moot, held in the Great Hall of Inner Temple to a packed audience, allowed ESU Chairman Sir Peter Jennings, to announce that both parties will hold a gala Magna Moot in October 2015 pitching the champions of our respective mooting competitions against each other. The Liberty Moot was a much more relaxed but still hard fought affair. ESU mentors Akash Mukerji and Ben Woolgar spoke on behalf of the ESU against Ella Davis and Gus Barker advocating on behalf of The Inner Temple. All sides made first class presentations but at the conclusion Master Brougham QC, who presided over the judging panel of HHJ David Mitchell and Andrew Butler, declared the ESU team the winners.

Akash and Ben briefly received a silver plate which, suitably engraved, will be on view in the Inner Temple.

Sir Robert Worcester KBE DL, Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Committee, and Master of Ceremonies Master Morley QC both gave brief speeches which in their different ways highlighted the supreme importance of the legacy of the Magna Carta.

The Final of the English leg of the John Smith Memorial Mace – the UK’s blue riband University Debating Competition will be Magna Carta inspired and take place during Parliament Week in November 2015.

Youth Symposium

The University of Lincoln in association with the English-Speaking Union, the UK Parliamentary Outreach Team, and the Historic Lincoln Trust hosted a forum for young people (16-25yr olds) to explore concepts of democracy, justice, freedom and liberty. The forum featured speakers of great eminence and delegates were encouraged to attend from around the world. The symposium was held at The University of Lincoln in July 2015. Lord Boateng hosted one of the panel sessions and our ESU mentors worked with the young people ahead of and during the symposium.

[Lincoln is the only city to have originals of both the 1215 Magna Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forests which are housed in a purpose-built vault in the grounds of Lincoln Castle]

If you want to know more about the ESU and its Magna Carta activities please email Steve Roberts, Director of Charitable Activities at [email protected]


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