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Last Updated: Wednesday June 24 2009 10:57 GMT

Maddy checks out UK's first spelling bee

Maddy

Maddy meets the UK's top spellers

Ten schools from around the UK took part in the final of the UK's first ever national spelling championships in London on Thursday.

So how well did they handle words including seismograph and paraplegic? Maddy watched it all happen...


"As the contestants shuffled nervously on to the stage to pumping dance music, supporters from each school took it in turn to whoop, scream and wave home-made banners.

Spelling competitions like this, or Spelling Bees as they are sometimes called, are really popular in America, but this was the first time there'd ever been such a big contest in the UK.

Many of the competitors are already local celebrities after beating pupils from more than 750 schools around the country to get through to the final.

Quick-fire round

The entrants had to take it in turns to spell out a tricky word. Most of them did brilliantly in the first round, but as the words got tougher, pupils who got a word wrong were kicked out.

Quiz
Magnets with random words on them

Eventually there were just three left, and they battled it out for ages, hardly pausing before spelling words like verisimilitude and guillotine without a single mistake!

Next came the quick-fire round. I struggled to keep up as contestants had just two minutes to spell as many difficult words as possible. The judges scribbled furiously to jot down the pupils answers.

I thought Liam from Welland Park Community College was one of the best. He managed to say out loud the letters to spell words including kleptomaniac and cyanide quicker than most people can say them whole!

Star status

Maddy talking to Prahalad and Jonah - two of the winning spellers

Maddy meets two of the prize-winning spellers

There were also huge cheers for a boy called Richard from Oundle School in Cambridgeshire.

He was definitely loving his new star status. Some pupils had even made a poster saying: "We love Ricky T".

But the winners were a gang in stripy blue blazers from St Martin's School in Middlesex.

Dylan, Prahalad and Jonah told me afterwards they'd been practising at school, and in the car, as well as at home late into the night.

"When we entered the competition we just thought it would make spelling fun for a change", said Jonah. "We never expected to get to the finals and to win is such a bonus! We're ecstatic!"

So are they bored of spelling yet? No way!

Jonah told me: "I think it's really important that everyone learns how to spell properly."

"Yeah this competition has made spelling compelling!" added Prahlad. But they both admitted they'd like a few weeks' rest from their dictionaries!

They boys have still got a bit more work to do first though.

As well as winning some gleaming medals and chunky silver trophies, their prize includes a day helping out at the Young Times Newspaper.

Well done to everyone who took part in the final. I reckon it was an amazing achievement to get so far in the competition. Keep up the good work!"

Maddy