Northumberland school ‘buzzes’ from £500 grant

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

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 in Ashington.

Thanks to sponsorship from 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. He 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.

For more information about Bernicia’s Community Grant Scheme, please contact the Bernicia Resident Involvement Team on 0191 238 3181 or email
















Organisers of the Great NCEA Spelling Bee, teachers Sarah Weatheritt (far left) and Sharon Cole (far right), with children from across the primary campuses of the Northumberland Church of England Academy and  Steve Burke, team leader for customer involvement at Bernicia.