BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words 2020 competition launches in Liverpool

Four Oaks Primary School welcomed BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show team today (16 January) as it launched this year’s 500 Words.

Zoe Ball broadcasted live from the Anfield school to launch the children’s short-story writing competition which was first created and launched by Chris Evans in 2011.

The competition for children aged five to 13 years old was declared open for entries with a special outside broadcast of the Breakfast Show from Four Oaks Primary School where pupils joined Zoe Ball live on air.

500 Words is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, as is Four Oaks Primary School which was formed in 2010 after amalgamating four local primary schools.

Since launching the competition, it has received 934,296 entries and over 20,000 schools nationwide have taken part.

The competition asks children to compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words. Entries are split into two age categories: 5-9 years and 10-13 years. The closing date is 8pm on Thursday 27 February.

The live final will take place at Buckingham Palace on Friday 12 June and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall once again returns as an Honorary Judge.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall first supported 500 Words in 2015 and will sit alongside a judging panel of award-winning authors, including Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon. Chair of the Judging Panel is Chris Evans, who created and launched 500 Words at Radio 2 in 2011.

Zoe Ball said: “I’m so excited to be launching the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s amazing 500 Words competition again this year, particularly as we’re celebrating its tenth anniversary! Oh and we have an unbelievably special venue for our live final this year – we’ve been given the keys to Buckingham Palace! If you want to come and join us there, then please do encourage all the superstar children you know aged five to 13 years old to get creative, put pen to paper, and send in their fabulous story – it could be them mixing it with royalty and having their story read by a celeb on 12 June!”

Following the Breakfast Show, year 6 pupils then participated in BBC Teach’s 500 Words Live Lesson which took place in the school’s main hall. The space was transformed into a studio set designed to spark the imaginations of the children and the viewers who tuned in.

The live interactive lesson encouraged them to create new and original stories and was hosted by BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show host Zoe Ball, CBBC’s Rhys Stephenson and Hacker T Dog.

They were joined by 500 Words judges, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon who provided budding writers with their top tips and advice on how to start their own 500 Words stories.

Speaking about the exciting day, Mrs Robinson, headteacher at Four Oaks Primary School, said: “We have always been a fan of 500 Words and so when the BBC approached us and asked if we would be prepared to host we thought what a perfect coincidence, as it is our tenth anniversary and the tenth anniversary of the competition!

“We were delighted to have BBC Radio 2 and BBC Teach come to the school, not just for the writing aspect but for also what happens behind the scenes – the sound, the lighting, the set designers – our children wanted to learn about their jobs so this experience was great in terms of inspiring career opportunities too.”

Full details about 500 Words can be found at:

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