Spelling Bee Has Pupils Buzzing

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.”

Primaries Achieve Best Ever Results

Congratulations to our primary pupils and staff for achieving the Academy’s best set of results.

Progress levels at the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6) were in the top 10% nationally in both reading and maths and in the top 20% for writing. In Northumberland, the Academy was placed third in maths and fifth in reading.

In reading, 77% of pupils reached the benchmark standard set by the Government compared to a national average of 71%.

In Maths, 79% achieved the expected standard, higher than the national average of 75%. At greater depth, reading and maths were above the national average and 66% of pupils achieved expected standard in all areas compared to a national average of 61%.


Across the primary phases, all results were above the national average, including Good Levels of Development (GLD) in Reception and phonics test results in Key Stage 1.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

  • 73% of children in Reception achieved at a Good Level of Development benchmark, for the second year in a row above the national average of 70%.

At Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2)

  • In Year 1, 83% achieved the phonics test and over 90% achieved it in Year 2. In both cases this exceeded the national average.
  • In Year 2, in the annual assessments, 76% (National Average 76%) achieved expected standard in Reading, 68% (68%) in Writing, and 74% (75%) in mathematics. At greater depth reading and mathematics were above the national average.

Primary Director, Mrs Hinson, said: “These fantastic results have not happened overnight, but are the result of long-term hard work and dedication from pupils and staff, alongside vital parental support.

“It really has been a whole team effort that involves instilling the children with a tenacity and desire to learn and not to give up when the going gets tough.

“Introducing higher level reading areas with additional quality books, specialist speech and language therapy, Easter Schools  and the support of the Learner Welfare team are just a few of the many initiatives we have at the Academy that are contributing to the success of our pupils.”

More information about our results can be found HERE.


MP’s Praise for Young Comics

After the success of last year’s Voice Box competition, we decided to get the laughter started and take part again.

Each campus held their own contest with the winners going head-to-head at the inter-campus final at the Thomas Bewick Campus – home to last year’s winner Jesse Webb, who travelled to Westminster to tell his joke in the Houses of Parliament. 

Miss Carr, the Academy’s Speech and Language Therapist, said: “It was a lovely afternoon and I am really proud of all the children who took part. I’ve received lots of positive feedback from staff about the increase in the children’s confidence and how much they enjoyed it.

“Some of the parents also commented on how proud they were seeing their children telling jokes in front of a large audience.”


Ian Lavery MP, who judged the event said: “Myself and my fellow judges had a great time hearing some very original jokes and handing out the prizes to runners-up and winners. Well done to all involved.

“The work done by Julie Carr and the team across their many campuses at NCEA is really impressive and I look forward to seeing this work continuing into the future to help build self confidence amongst all our local children.”

Skye Edgar from the Josephine Butler Primary Campus was the overall winner and will be entered into the national competition.


Skye Edgar Y1

Josephine Butler

Why can’t Elsa hold on to a balloon?

Because she will let it go.

Mason Hope – Y6

William Leech

Why was the laptop cold?

Because it didn’t close its windows!

Zach Robinson – Y6

James Knott

Knock Knock, who’s there? Britney Spears

Knock knock, who’s there?… oops I did it again!

Ben Pepper – Y5

Thomas Bewick

What do you call a tall man in Scotland with a burger for a hat? A big mac
Joe Emery – Y6

Grace Darling

There has been an explosion at a cheese factory. Now there is deBRIE everywhere


Pupils Impress in Maths Challenge

Well done to all primary pupils who took part in the Young Mathematician Award, with special mention to the Thomas Bewick Campus who reached the second round. The team worked superbly together, their systematic approach to the problems were noted by the judges.

All campuses have also been involved in Mathletes where representatives from each campus compete for the top spot on the Mathletes league table (currently occupied by the Grace Darling Campus).

Merry Christmas from NCEA Primary

From wonderful Nativity plays, to Christmas dinners, charity fundraising and carol singing, our primary campuses have been brimming Christmas spirit over the last few weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has joined in and given their support.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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Pupils Get Creative at Primary STEM Week

From firing rockets to racing cars, mixing chemicals and cooking up a storm in the kitchen, children from across the campuses took part in the Academy’s Primary STEM Week.

The extravaganza enabled all our Y5 pupils to get creative, with plenty of hands-on activities celebrating the best of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The aim of the week is for children to understand how STEM subjects impact on their daily lives through many different practical activities and investigations.

“The sweet and sour chicken was so tasty!”

“I’ve enjoyed it, as it was really creative.”

“I liked making the propeller cars”

Magical Takeover

The Wonderfolk of Woodhorn took over William Leech Primary Campus when the whole school took part in a day of activities organised by Bedlington charity Leading Link.

Wonderfolk is a brand new interactive family trail opening at Woodhorn Museum. Equipped with a magical lantern, visitors help to track down and uncover the stories and secrets of the Wonderfolk – magical, mythical creatures hidden underground among the coal seams.

Headteacher, Mrs Mullen said, “We’re very much into developing the creative curriculum here at William Leech and anything that will fire the children’s imaginations and develop writing skills.

“When we found out the Wonderfolk project was all about exploring local culture and heritage we were really keen to be involved.”

Read more about what our pupils thought about their day:

Harvey, 8

“My favourite part was the dance. I had an absolute blast doing it. I had really good fun making things and doing the activities as well. We wrote a postcard to the Wonderfolk and drew a picture of what they look like on the back.

Matthew, 8

“I’d like to go to Woodhorn in the summer holidays to do the trail because we’ll know where to look for the Wonderfolk because we’ve learned about them at school. I enjoyed doing the dance the best. And I loved making stuff. We imagined what we think the Wonderfolk homes look like and drew pictures and made them out of plasticine.

Abigail, 7

We saw a Fir Borg and a Flade [two different types of Wonderfolk] at dinner time – one was down a drain and we heard them. We saw a little red and white pointy hat. I’ve drawn a picture. We found some glitter on the Wonderfolk hunt at school – there were messages in a bottle and other evidence.  We did Irish dancing and special football. I liked making the little houses the most because we used plasticine and it was really good.

Sinead, 6

We made postcards to send to the Wonderfolk. We made little houses and put lights in it. I liked finding the shiny stuff because I like shiny stuff. I might have to pour some glitter around to see if I can find one at home. I’ll ask my mam if we can go to Woodhorn in the school holidays to see if we can find some there and help the Professor.


Scarlett, 9

I liked learning the dance the best. When get home from school I’l do the dance for my little sister (age 2) and I’ll be able to tell her all about what we learned at school today.


Maddie, 9

I liked finding the clues about the Wonderfolk and working out what they meant – we found leaves with glitter on that made a word or sentence on them. Our clay houses will be part of the exhibition and we’re looking forward to people seeing what we’ve made. We can’t wait to hep the Professor at Woodhorn, there’ll be more clues for us to solve and we can help to explain about the Wonderfolk to other because we’ve learned about them at school.


Wedding Bells at William Leech Campus

Wedding bells chimed at the William Leech Campus as children took part in a mock wedding.
The service was officiated by the Reverend Joanna Dobson, from Holy Trinity, Widdrington & St John’s, Ulgham.
Katie from reception class was waked down the aisle by her brother Christopher who gave her away, accompanied by bridesmaids and ushers from each class.
She then pretended to get married to Alfie from Y1. Josh from Y6 did the reading ‘Let love be your guide’ from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and the children from Nursery to Y6 sang ‘Shine’ and ‘Our God is a Great Big God’ beautifully.
The bride a groom gave Haribo rings and signed the register witnessed by Freddie and Maddie, before everyone tucked into a fabulous buffet and a chocolate fountain.


Young Gardeners Show they are Bloomin Marvellous

Green-fingered two-year-olds have been helping to add a splash of colour to the Lynemouth Early Years Centre.

Inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the children planted flowers to learn about growing and taking care of our environment.

They also discovered how flowers bring insects into the garden and how we have to take special care of them as well as our flowers, watering them and being gentle.