Pupils get a buzz from spelling bee

Great NCEA Spelling Bee winner Chloe Smith, Y2, is presented with her prize by Steve Burke, team leader for customer involvement at Bernicia.

The Northumberland Church of England Academy was recently awarded £500 from the Bernicia Community Grant fund to help towards its inter-campus spelling competition.

Hundreds of primary pupils at the Academy went head-to-head in the search to crown the school’s first spelling bee champions.

Great NCEA Spelling Bee winner Lachlan Hughes, Y4, is presented with his prize by teachers Sarah Weatheritt (L) and Sharon Cole (R)

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 in Ashington.

Thanks to generous sponsorship from North East housing association Bernicia, the finalists were awarded a specially-made rosette, with the winners taking home their own Spelling Bee mascot Bernie Bee and a dictionary.

After a nail-biting finish, which saw children tackle challenging words from beyond their age groups, the winners were Chloe Smith, Year 2, Lachlan Hughes, Year 4 and Sian Richardson, Year 6.

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 Great NCEA Spelling Bee was organised by teachers Sharon Cole and Sarah 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.

“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.”

Steve Burke, team leader for customer involvement at Bernicia, attended the spelling bee finale and 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, and it is an honour that the official mascot Bernie Bee has been named after Bernicia.”

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