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AJ Writing Prize Shortlist: The Carrot and the Cane by Malcolm Birks

As gestures go, the 100m sprint track at the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, South London, is a very powerful one; an act of great force running through a void in the centre of the building. ‘Education is a competition,’ it shouts, ‘so you’d better get in training now.’ But is it just a one-liner, a clever juxtaposition but no more?

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