If you were asked to spell ‘automaticity’, how would you fare? Sound the word by its individual syllables, recognising the two key words within it? Picture the word appearing in front of you? Write it down first? In the week before Half Term, The Winsford Academy launched its first annual Spelling Bee. Fifty strong young spellers from our feeder primary schools arrived, alongside supportive teachers and families, each hoping to be crowned the King or Queen of their year group and have their name engraved on a shiny new trophy which will stand proudly, showcased on The Street.

For Mrs Lea, Whole School Lead on Literacy, this was an evening not without excitement or tension. Herself a Junior Spelling Bee Queen – three years undefeated – it signalled a further wave in her crusade to make spelling a thing of its geeky past. For The Winsford Academy is in its second year of formally testing students’ spelling in all curriculum areas each half term and with fine reason. The ability to spell with confidence is a lifelong skill. To achieve automaticity, it is the accurate response, thanks to learning and repetition. Practice makes permanent; everyone knows that.

The students who represented Years 3 through the Year 6 were spelling whizzes and there were audible gasps amongst the audience when the end letters of a particularly challenging word signalled a correct response. Spellings as game changers: brilliant. Semi final, final and the veritable nail-biting Lightning Round all saw a hushed audience and young people who were remarkably poised and confident under pressure. Spelling in exercise books on a daily basis is one thing; chanting patterns of correct letters to an audience who hangs on each is quite something else.

Congratulations to the following winners; Year 6 – Kirsty (Over St Johns); Year 5 – Kaitlin (High Street); Year 4 – Ruth (Over St Johns); Year 3 – Brooke (Over St Johns).