Skip to content ↓

    Peter Smout Memorial Essay Writing Competition 2021

    We are delighted to announce that our annual Peter Smout Memorial Essay Writing Competition is now open! 

    This competition is for Kimbolton School pupils in the First to Lower Sixth Forms. It has been made possible thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Old Kimboltonian who thought highly of Peter Smout, a much-respected former Kimbolton Senior Master.

    Please read the instructions below on how to enter (also available as a pdf download from the bottom of this page).

    The essay topic for 2021 is: Can violent protest ever be justified?

    Struggling against the powerful is a tradition that stretches back generations. Change is often presented as a gift granted by the powerful, but it has much to do with the struggle and sacrifice of those from below. All members of a democratic society have a right to protest and to campaign for change. In the 20th century, Britain became a democracy, with a government that was supposed to be 'by the people for the people'. Most protest, therefore, was peaceful, and attempted to persuade the government to change its mind. Nevertheless, peaceful protests can easily tip over into violence and rioting.
    For our annual summer essay competition this year, we would like you to consider the issue of violent protest and whether violent actions can be justified in order to bring about important political and social change.
    There are many examples of peaceful and violent protest you will be able to draw on, some historical and others very recent. One of the first mass protests in Britain was the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 (violent in nature), which you will all have studied as part of the school curriculum. You might also refer to other famous struggles such as the Suffragette Movement campaigning for the female vote (using some violent tactics) and the US Civil Rights campaign, during which Martin Luther King advocated peaceful protest. More recently, we have seen direct action taken by Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter. Some of these protest movements have proved successful, whilst others did not achieve their aims.

    Essay structure

    We are looking for you to consider both sides of this debate, whilst presenting your own line of argument. It would be a good idea to include some specific examples of positive and negative aspects of both peaceful and violent protests, with some historical or more recent examples to help illustrate your explanations.

    Starting your research:

    There is plenty of recommended reading material to view on Showbie, along with Mr Newsam’s introductory video (course code P5WZH). However, the following BBC website also provides a super overview of this topic here.

    Length of Essay

    Essays submitted should be in the region of 1500 words.

    Entry Deadline

    To Mr Newsam’s inbox/pigeon hole by Monday 13th September 2021


    Overall winning essay – £200

    Two consolation prizes:

    Senior Category (4th to L6th Forms) – £100

    Junior Category (1st to 3rd  Forms) – £100

    Peter Smout 1929-2006

    Peter Smout, former Kimbolton School Senior Master

    Charles Anthony Peter Smout (known as Peter) was born in Birmingham on 14 November 1929. Following school at The Leys, National Service in the Army, a degree at Cambridge and teaching practice at KES Birmingham and Kimbolton, Peter joined the staff of Kimbolton School as an English teacher in 1954. He remained here for 35 years, becoming Second Master in 1964. Many former colleagues and pupils remember him as the originator of outdoor Shakespearian productions in the castle courtyard; now home to a memorial bench bearing his name.

    Peter had many and varied interests, including football, birds, butterflies, the church and opera. The Kimboltonian magazine of 1989 notes: "He always welcomed the opportunity to broaden his already diverse interests, and the Printing Club, the Wine Club, the Paperback Bookshop and the School magazine all benefitted from his enthusiasm and efficiency."

    In addition to his School commitments, Peter also stood three times as parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Party in the 1970s, highlighting environmental issues and on one occasion polling over 17,000 votes. A former colleague recalls: "Many of those votes were in addition to any national swing, reflecting personal support gained by diligent long-term canvassing."

    Peter celebrated his golden wedding anniversary in 2004 and remained in good health until his death on 22 December 2006, aged 77. He leaves his wife Mary, two sons and four grandchildren.