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Topical Tuesdays from The Week Junior – New Year's honours


The 2020 New Year's Honours List was recently announced, with over a thousand people from various professions being celebrated.

The list is chosen by the government to recognises those who have done outstanding work in their communities or professions, whether they are celebrities of members of the general public.

Singer Elton John received this year’s highest acknowledgement – the Companion of Honour, which is a special award granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine or politics over a long time.

Elton John was awarded the honour to celebrate his long career in music and for his charity work. In the last 50 years he has sold more than 300 million records and raised money for 23 causes.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason was awarded an MBE for his music, as were the 2015 winner of the TV show The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain, and England footballer Jill Scott. England cricketer Ben Stokes received an OBE.

Filmmaker Sam Mendes, who directed two James Bond films, was made a knight, which means he is now Sir Sam Mendes, and so too was filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Discuss whether you think we need to change these awards at all. For example, we don't really have an Empire now, and a lot of terrible things occurred in its name
  • Who would you nominate for an award? Write a pretend persuasive letter to the Government saying why they deserve one
  • Write a set of instructions for someone who is going to receive a knighthood Include the steps you need to deserve the honour, and those required of you at the ceremony
  • Research other countries that give similar awards and describe the ceremony

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See the whole range of free Topical Tuesday resources here.