Premier's Spelling Bee

The Premier’s Spelling Bee was introduced in 2004 as a fun and educational way for primary school students to engage in spelling. The program includes activities to encourage all students to engage with spelling and to promote improved literacy in combination with the English K-6 Syllabus. Please note that you can download this information as a PDF by clicking here.

Who is eligible to compete?

The Premier’s Spelling Bee is open to all NSW government primary, central and community schools. The competition comprises two divisions – Junior for Years 3&4 and Senior for Years 5&6. Each school can enter a maximum of two students per division (i.e. a maximum of four students per school).

How do schools enter the Premier’s Spelling Bee?

An online entry form for the competition is available from early May here on the Premier's Spelling Bee website. Entries should be submitted before close of business on the final day of entries. Please ensure that you include contact details for the teacher who will be looking after the entry. All teachers must provide a direct email address (preferably your departmental address for government school teachers) to assist with our organisation. Entries can be submitted before schools know the names of the students they will be entering.

How much does entry cost?

There is no cost associated with the Premier’s Spelling Bee.

What are the competition stages?

Schools either follow official competition procedures or devise their own spelling activities to select students (a maximum of 4) to represent the school at regional finals. These will take place between Monday 9 September and Friday 20 September (Weeks 9 and 10 of Term 3). The Premier’s Spelling Bee Coordinator will advise schools of the dates and venues of regional finals in early Term 3. The winner of each division of each regional final goes on to the state finals (please note: the runner-up does not). They will be be held on Wednesday 6 November 2013 in the Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Centre, Ultimo.

What does the School Spelling Bee Coordinator do?

School Spelling Bee Coordinators should submit the online entry form for their school and download the 2013 word lists when available. They’ll then need to select the school’s representatives and submit those names in an email by Friday 23 August 2013. Once all the details are finalised, they’ll receive an email with details of the venue and date of the final their school will be attending.

What word lists are used?

Words for the competition are provided by Macquarie Dictionary and are divided into several categories. Junior and Senior students study different wordlists. Regional and state finals also include unseen words in later rounds. Wordlists will be available for download from The Arts Unit website from Monday 15 July 2013. School Spelling Bee Coordinators will be notified of their availability and given the access password by email. They can and should be freely distributed to all students taking part in the competition.

What are the competition procedures?

At each final, there is a demonstration round using simple words to help familiarise contestants with the competition format. No one is eliminated in this round. This is followed by elimination rounds of increasing difficulty. The announcer reads the word, then a sentence including the word, and then repeats the word again. Each contestant must repeat the word to the satisfaction of the announcer before they spell, and then say the word again to indicate they have finished spelling. Up until this point, contestants may self-correct if they clearly indicate that they are starting again. Students have 45 seconds in which to spell the word. A warning bell is rung at 30 seconds with two bells at 45 seconds to indicate the contestant's time has expired. Contestants may ask the announcer to repeat the word – this is included in their 45 second time limit. Any self-corrections must also be made within the time limit. At the second bell, any incomplete spelling will be taken as the contestant's final answer. When a student has finished spelling a word, the announcer will either state 'That is correct' or 'That is incorrect. The correct spelling is…'

How is a winner determined?

At the regional and state finals, the elimination process continues round by round. To win the competition a contestant must spell more words correctly than all the other contestants. A contestant will only be eliminated if at least one other contestant in the same round spells their word correctly. If all contestants in a particular round misspell their words then no one is eliminated.

What are the prizes?

All regional finalists receive a certificate of participation. Regional winners and runners up receive a compact Macquarie Dictionary. State finalists receive silver medallions and a Macquarie Dictionary. State Champions receive gold medallions and are acknowledged along with their school on a perpetual trophy.

Organisation and sponsorship

The competition is organised by The Arts Unit of the NSW Department of Education & Communities, and is principally sponsored by Samsung, with associate sponsor Colgate, media partner ABC Local Radio and supporting sponsor Franklin Electronic Publishers. The official word list supplier is Macquarie Dictionary.

Contact details

If you have any questions about the Premier's Spelling Bee, please contact Ben Garrard, Premier's Spelling Bee Coordinator on (02) 8512 1173 or email: ben.garrard4@det.nsw.edu.au.