Four aspiring young writers have been picked from thousands to go through to the semi-final of a national story writing competition. Thirty Year 6 pupils at St Alban’s Catholic Primary School in Walker took part in the BBC 500 Words contest, which required them to write a story of no more than 500 words, with marks awarded for characterisation, plot, originality and enjoyment.

Children of all abilities are encouraged to use their creativity and imagination to write a story they would love to read without the pressure of having to worry about spelling, punctuation and grammar,” explained Daniel Moore, Year 6 teacher at the school, which is part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

All stories, submitted nationally, would be judged by a panel, and only 5,000 stories from around the country would be picked to go through to Round Two – which four of our pupils were included within.

The St Alban’s qualifiers were Ruby Watson, with a fantasy story entitled ‘The Enchanted Meadow’; Olivia Jenkins, with ‘Nala’s Christmas Wish’, which related the tale of Santa rescuing a homeless puppy; Eliza Costen, who wrote ‘The Misshapen Trip’ about a disastrous school expedition to London; and Anna Richardson, with the comedy ‘Santa Loses His Beard’.

All four were delighted to progress to Round Two of the competition.

I’m amazed,” said Eliza, while Anna agreed, “I couldn’t believe I got picked,” and Olivia added: “I’m so excited about the next round.

Ruby, who was additionally chosen as the school’s in-house winner, said: “It’s pretty good to get picked.

Each member of the class was awarded a BBC certificate of achievement for entering, while the semi-finalists received an additional prize of sweets, and Ruby was presented with a box of chocolates.

Year 6 had a special classroom celebration with sweet treats, pop and a film to celebrate the whole class’s entries and efforts,” continued Mr Moore.

Since 500 Words was launched by Chris Evans on the Radio Two Breakfast Show in 2011, over a million stories have been submitted by children aged five to 11 from across the UK.

The penultimate round will see the remaining entries reduced to a shortlist of 50 finalists, with bronze, silver and gold winners in each of two age categories then decided by the 500 Words Panel.

Judges include best-selling writers Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Francesca Simon and Charlie Higson, along with former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, and TV legend, children’s author and World Book Day ambassador Sir Lenny Henry.

The competition is also supported by Her Majesty Queen Camilla.

These competitions contribute to inspiring creativity and excitement for writing and reading,” added Mr Moore. “The children enthused a great deal about their stories, and it really heightened their level of personal pride in their work. They really wanted to be the best that they could.

The winners will be announced on World Book Day on 7 March, when they will appear on The One Show.

Article created on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.