About Poetry By Heart


Poetry by Heart is a national poetry recitation competition for schools and colleges in England. It’s also a website for teaching and learning about poetry – by heart and out loud, and with plenty of choice for young people to explore poems and find the ones they love. It’s a resource for everyone in schools, in England, and everywhere else.

In the national Poetry By Heart competition young people aged from 7-18, in key stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 choose poems they love, learn them by heart and perform them in a school or college competition. There can be as few as three contestants and as many as the whole school.

With our support and free materials, teachers pick their school/college competition winner(s), make a simple video of their performances and upload them for judging. Every national competition entrant receives positive feedback from the judges and a certificate celebrating their achievement. The best will be invited to perform their poems in front of top UK poets at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – and the new Poetry By Heart national champions will be crowned.

Poetry By Heart is simple to set up, it’s all free and schools and colleges have until 31st March 2022 to choose who will represent them in the national competition. All the details are on the competition information page.

Schools and colleges can also take part by uploading videos of pupils performing poems for sharing on our website, if a non-competitive option is preferred.

Poetry By Heart has always been a partnership between poetry and education. It was founded in 2012 by poet Andrew Motion, UK Poet Laureate 1999-2009, and educator Julie Blake, and initially developed by The Full English with The Poetry Archive. This collaboration now been expanded to include The Poetry Society, the English Association, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, the National Association for the Teaching of English and Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Poetry By Heart is funded with the support of the Department for Education.