A Polish-born Kingston schoolgirl has been praised for overcoming her language difficulties to win a national fashion award.

Fourteen-year-old Julia Zajac, who goes to Teddington School, has won the London College of Fashion’s annual jewellery design competition, a national contest for year 9 art students.

Sophia Reidy, community arts co-ordinator at Teddington School, said: “We are really delighted that Julia has won the London College of Fashion Hidden Treasure competition.

“Julia was born in Kantowice and only moved to Kingston four years ago and so we think it’s even more of an achievement for her to have expressed herself so creatively despite English being her second language.”

Miss Zajac’s winning design, Mechanimals, was an owl-shaped necklace, praised by the judges for an “innovative” use of materials, which included a protractor, parts of a map, earphones, safety pins, springs and a plastic lid.

As her prize she has won a place on a jewellery workshop at the college and an invitation for its Fashion Design Technology Graduate Show 2010 on June 3 in central London.