Pupils from private schools dominated this year's awards, with Briony Millman, Elena Lawson, Timothy Hu and Rachel Culloty taking the top prizes.
They were among the 20 finalists chosen from 10,000 entries; scores of English teachers helped to draw up the shortlist.
Briony, 13, a pupil at Gresham's school, in Norfolk, wrote "Crystal Memory". Her story movingly tells how the sight of a dead cyclist still haunts her six months after a fatal accident outside her home.
In "My Honey and Candle Wax Granddad", Elena, 12, from Lady Eleanor Holles school in Middlesex, recalls her grandfather's funeral and the effect of his death on herself and her grandmother.
Eleven-year-old Timothy, a pupil at Homefield school, in Sutton, Surrey, explores the trials of being a schoolboy. In his piece "Life is Just One Big Rush" he describes having too much pressure at school and not enough time for fun.
Meanwhile Rachel, 10, from Peterborough high in Cambridgeshire, is a winner for the second year running. She describes how her ballet dancer's physique helped bail her mother out of an embarrassing situation when they were locked out of their car in her story "(My Mum is) A Series of Unfortunate Events".
The winners were chosen by Jacqueline Wilson, the children's laureate, and Michael Rosen, the poet and broadcaster.
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