Schools in Bushey, Rickmansworth and Watford are the first in the UK to take part in a new initiative designed to encourage young people write about issues that concern them.

Inspired by the prestigious Orwell Prize, which is in its 21st year, the Orwell Youth Prize is being developed for youngsters aged between 14 and 19 by a team that includes teachers of English, Citizenship, Politics and Sociology from Queens’ School, Rickmansworth School and Watford Grammar School for Girls.

The team held its first working session last week at Queens’, and were joined by teachers from schools in Hatfield, Stevenage, Banbury and North London and by Orwell Prize Director Professor Jean Seaton, author Stephen Armstrong and former Guardian Education editor Anne McHardy.

Tony Breslin, Orwell Youth Prize director, said: "The response to the prize amongst teachers has been fantastic and augurs well for the work we will be engaged in over the next year as we develop the Orwell Youth into a major national programme - something that promises to promote the sort of political writing amongst young people that is exemplified in George Orwell’s work, and to do so by developing a range of new teaching resources and by bringing the young people into contact with authors and journalists in workshop settings."

Kevin Rooney, a teacher at Queens', added: "It is really important that we engage young people with writers and writing in this way, and the Orwell Youth Prize provides a fantastic opportunity to do so.

"We’re thrilled to be involved in this from the beginning, to be working with colleagues in local schools and to be engaging with colleagues across a range of subject areas who share one goal, raising an awareness amongst our students of the power of writing to stimulate debate and drive change."