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Hampstead schoolboys’ vision for garden city shortlisted in worldwide economics prize

15:00 18 June 2014

Year 6 boys at St Anthony

Year 6 boys at St Anthony's School with head of Art, Design and Technology Oliver Evelyn-Rahr. The boys won £500 for their entries for the Wolfson Economics Prize. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Schoolboys have won plaudits and £500 in one of the world’s most prestigious economics contests with designs for a new garden city.

Pupils at St Anthony’s School in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead, impressed judges with their computer-generated 3D models for a new city surrounded by green belt in the Wolfson Economics Prize.

The 10 and 11-year-olds were even told their entries were better than some of those submitted by seasoned architects and urban planners.

Despite going up against town planning firms and homelessness charity Shelter, the schoolboys’ teacher Oliver Evelyn-Rahr said he knew the 34 pupils from his Year 6 class would win recognition.

“Some of their ideas are so good, the depth of thinking that has gone into their schemes is really outstanding,” he told the Ham&High. “The judges said a lot of their schemes were better than the adult ones.”

The Wolfson Economics Prize was founded three years ago by Conservative peer and chief executive of Next clothing shops, Lord Simon Wolfson, and its overall cash prize of £250,000 makes it the second biggest economics award after the Nobel Prize.

This year, competitors were asked to write a 10,000-word essay on how to make a visionary, economically viable and popular garden city.

The question would be a challenge for most adults, let alone children.

Mr Evelyn-Rahr, head of art, design and technology, thought it was the perfect challenge for Year 6 pupils at the Catholic private school.

“They were really enthusiastic,” he said. “They are a very bright year group who are very mature in their outlook.

“It’s critical that students are aware of social issues such as the housing crisis.”

He continued: “A lot of the students are from privileged backgrounds and some of them aren’t.

“Housing may not be an issue for them, perhaps, but it’s a pressing issue in the community they live in and for their peers.”

The school, which entered the competition for the first time this year, will buy a 3D printer for its art, design and technology department with the prize money following their win earlier this month.

St Anthony’s has a history of entering its pupils into illustrious competitions. Several schoolboys have also submitted artwork for the annual Saatchi Gallery and Deutsche Bank School Art Prize.

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