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Children get writing

Primary school children across the UK have begun writing short stories for Chris Evans’ Radio 2 competition, 500 Words.

There are two age categories (5 to 9 and 10 to 13) and stories of 500 words or less must be submitted via the BBC’s 500 Words website by Thursday 25th February.

Meanwhile, teachers or librarians (or retired teachers or librarians) can apply to become voluntary judges of the competition.

They will be asked to read a batch of about 30 stories, which will be sent out in early March 2016. They will need to read and score the stories by Thursday 19th March.

Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, is an honorary judge; and the other judges are the writers Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon.

Former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said: “If you have fun writing it, then we will have fun reading it. I get my inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. It’s a question of basically keeping your eyes and ears open.”

She added: “When I was at school, I was always getting told off for having too much imagination and for daydreaming all the time. And now, that’s what I do for a living. I daydream and I make up stories. And I get paid for it. I think I’m so lucky because I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I love my job. So I hope you’re all feeling suitably inspired.”

The competition was created six years ago by Chris Evans, and nearly half a million pupils have taken part.

This year, three finalists in both age categories compete for the following prizes:

– Gold winners will win Chris Evans' height in books (6.2") and 500 books each for their school. – Silver winners will win Alex Jones' height in books (5.6"). – Bronze winners will win their own height in books.

They will also have their stories read out on Radio 2. And the final will be live – with celebrities in attendance – from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on 27 May.

Ahead of the event, there are teaching resources – including lesson plans – available on the BBC’s 500 Words website. You can find these by clicking on the “grown up” section.

David Collins

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