Youth perspective on impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures wins Student Voice contest

Leading edtech company Education Perfect (EP) ( – in conjunction with The Big Smoke ( – is pleased to announce the winner of their inaugural Student Voices competition.

Keelan Heesterman, 17, from Karuma High School in New Zealand has won the competition with his essay, ‘The Free Trial No-one Asked For’ (

Keelan’s essay was among scores of entries from all over Australia and New Zealand, and was judged the best by both a panel of experts and by a popular vote of The Big Smoke’s readers.

The essay was related to the lockdowns associated with COVID-19 and was a reflection on the hard situations he and his fellow students were suddenly faced with during New Zealand’s lockdown and school closures, and the unique perspectives and coping mechanisms they needed to employ.

Heesterman was grateful that his love of writing has provided an opportunity to have his voice heard by so many people and is looking forward to the editorial mentorship that he has won from The Big Smoke.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who voted for my article and supported me in this competition.

“It is a privilege to have this opportunity to grow as a writer and receive mentorship from professional journalists.

“To say I’m excited would be an understatement,” said Heesterman.

EP’s CEO, Alex Burke, congratulated Keelan and the other finalists and participants, saying that the competition showed the true depth of talent among the youth across Australia and New Zealand.

“Providing a student voice is so important in education, and I encourage everyone to read all the shortlisted entries, as it emphasises how important students’ insights are in creating a future for education,” said Burke.

“Keelan is a very deserving winner with his fantastically cynical, wise and honest entry displaying mature prose.

“His human-first approach is central to any school community, and it also aligns with EP’s mission—humanising technology for lifelong learners,” he continued.

Keelan’s work, as well as the work of all the Student Voices finalists is available on The Big Smoke (

About EP:
Education Perfect (EP) is a leading digital platform, enabling transformative online teaching and learning experiences to power the 21st century classroom. EP supports the engagement of students in online learning, provides effective assessment during the learning online process, and enables the collection and analysis of student feedback. With offices in Australia, NZ, and Singapore, and over 1.2 million students through over 4,000 schools, in 80+ countries globally, EP’s integrated smart technology enhances teaching and learning through curriculum-based content delivery and a ‘learner centred’ approach, improving learning outcomes and creating lifelong learners – for School, for the Home and for Work.

Media Release on 25 November 2020

Media enquiries:
Alana Fisher-Chejoski