Hundreds of primary pupils at the Northumberland Church of England Academy went head-to-head in the search to crown the school’s first spelling bee champions.
All children across the five primary campuses took part, with two winners from each class going on to compete in the grand final at the Josephine Butler Campus.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from local housing group Bernicia, the finalists were awarded a specially-made rosette, with the winners taking home their own Spelling Bee mascot ‘Bernie Bee’ and a spelling dictionary.
After a nail-biting finish, which saw children tackle challenging words from beyond their age groups, the winners were Chloe, Y2, Lachlan, Y4 and Sian, Y6.
Sian said: “I feel really happy and proud to win. Making spellings into a competition made it fun and I’ve really enjoyed taking part. I was nervous at first, but once I’d done my first word, I felt a lot better.”
The contest is the latest cross-campus initiative that has helped drive a rapid rise in standards across the primaries. In the summer, the Academy recorded its best primary results and progress scores at the end of Key Stage 2 were in the top 10% nationally in both reading and maths and in the top 20% for writing.
The Great NCEA Spelling Bee was organised by Mrs Cole and Mrs Weatheritt.
Mrs Cole, deputy head of the Josephine Butler Primary Campus, said: “Learning their spellings can sometimes seem a bit dull for children and so we really wanted to bring them to life and create a bit of excitement around it.
“We came up with the idea of the spelling bee and the feedback has been fantastic and has really raised the profile of spellings around the campuses.
“All classes had their own mini spelling bees and the winning boy and girl were then selected to compete in the grand final.
“We are so proud of how hard everyone has tried to learn their words and it has been wonderful to see the children have the confidence to stand up in front of their friends too.”
Mrs Weatheritt added: “We are very grateful to Bernicia for sponsoring the initiative, as it enabled us to give all the winners some fantastic prizes in recognition of their hard work.
“We now hope this will become an annual event and be even bigger and better next year.”
Steve Burke, team leader for customer involvement at Bernicia, said: “We are delighted to be supporting such an inspiring event that has clearly generated so much enthusiasm amongst pupils and created a real buzz about the importance of spellings.
“As an organisation, we are committed to providing support, advice and guidance to help our tenants and residents of the local communities and it is a honour that the official mascot ‘Bernie Bee’ has been named after Bernicia.”