This Summer, we were delighted with the response to our international creative writing competition, which attracted many talented young writers from the UK and much further afield, but which is also influencing teachers too.

These pictures were sent in by Xeniya Alikulova, a school teacher at Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics and Mathematics in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, who was inspired by the competition, and has been using the content of the Man Up! exhibition, curated by Clio O’Sullivan in 2020, to shape her own English lessons. Xeniya writes:

“As a teacher, I and my students are in the constant search for inspiration and new ideas that can broaden our horizons and bring us closer to the global community of enthusiastic learners.


Your work on the “Man Up!” exhibition has inspired me to introduce this idea to the classes I teach. I prepared some resources and used them in my English lessons. Meeting all my most daring expectations, students were more than excited to discuss the role of women’s courageousness in our history.


Your idea of shedding light on the women who stepped into male roles is particularly valuable in our community. Even though education in my country is developing rapidly, very little is said about the role of women in our society. Therefore, teaching mostly boys with a few girls in each class motivated me to introduce “Man Up!” lessons in my practice.”

Xeniya and her students have discussed portraits and photos of famous women, using this as an opportunity to explore women’s contributions to literature and history, and to build their vocabulary in the area of personal qualities, ending with a challenge to write a short story about an admirable woman.