BBC Breakfast · Colchester Royal Grammar school in Essex · Times Spelling Bee

The Times Spelling Bee

I didn’t realise that we have our own version of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Apparently, The Times newspaper has been running the Times Spelling Bee competition, now in its third year. Having already come through the locals and the semi-finals, the eleven finalist teams fought out the Grand Final in the O2 Arena. The… Continue reading The Times Spelling Bee

Alex Bellos · Radio 4 Today programme

Off piste – favourite number

This morning’s Today programme carried a short piece featuring Alex Bellos, author of the highly entertaining Alex’s Adventures in Numberland. Alex has been asked about his favourite number so many times, he decided to set up an online survey to find out if people have favourite numbers and what they are. Although he doesn’t have… Continue reading Off piste – favourite number

ThatReadingThing · Tricia Millar


Looks as if Tricia Millar has revamped her ThatReadingThing website. For years Tricia has been specialising in working with older children and young adults struggling with literacy and, as you’d expect with a linguistic phonic approach, Tricia is reporting very creditable gains for some of the young people trained using her programme.


The dreaded schwa

What is it that participants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee worry about more than most? Why, the dreaded schwa, of course! What is a schwa and why would it cause problems for spellers? Well, to begin with, schwas are the most frequently occurring vowel sounds in the English language and they are always associated… Continue reading The dreaded schwa

Evening Standard · illiteracy · Sounds-Write

Reading and writing as Standard

Two days ago the Evening Standard underscored exactly how serious the problem of illiteracy is in London. Its report, which confined itself to the situation in the capital, claimed that:  one in four children is ‘practically illiterate when they leave school’; that there are ‘one million adults in the capital who cannot read with confidence’;… Continue reading Reading and writing as Standard