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A Sixth Form student at King’s College Taunton, Matthew Thorne, has recently won the top UK schools history essay competition. The Vellacott History Prize is run by Peterhouse Cambridge and attracts entries from across the country. This year 250 Sixth Form historians from 175 different schools entered the competition.

Matthew’s essay was entitled Why was Child Labour a Problem for Nineteenth-Century Societies? and discussed the economic, social and moral aspects of child labour during the period. A copy of the essay can be found on the school’s website. Matthew, who comes from Crewkerne, is in the Lower Sixth at King’s College. He is studying for A levels in mathematics, further mathematics, economics and history.

Headmaster Richard Biggs said: “Matthew should be congratulated warmly on this extraordinary success. It is of course, a great tribute to his formidable talent and hard work. He is a consummate scholar – he reads widely and with genuine interest. It is also a feather in the cap of our outstanding History Department. History is a very popular GCSE and A level choice at King’s College and our history results have been consistently strong over the years. I am sure, too, that the excellent teaching Matthew has enjoyed in our Economics Department played a part in this success.”

Head of History, Patrick Scanlan, said: “I’m delighted by Matthew’s achievement in winning this coveted history prize.  His outstanding essay was rightly commended by Peterhouse for its ‘clear style, level of research and originality of thought’, and he will be presented with his £500 prize at a special ceremony in Cambridge at the end of June.” Responding to the news, Matthew said: “It is an honour and a surprise to have been awarded this prize. The independent research has taught me a great deal about writing extended essays and the hours that go into making them successful, and I would like to thank Mr Scanlan for his guidance in this. I look forward to broadening my horizons in both economics and history in the future.”