Global Challenge 2016

With more than 200 schools enrolled and over 30,000 students registering points, the Vocab Express Global Challenge 2016 was one of our biggest championships to date. As always we were blown away by the response from teachers and students alike, reflected in the incredible scores detailed below. This year we had a number of schools posting updates throughout the week on Twitter using the #vechamps hashtag, adding to the excitement of the competition.

In the overall Genius Cup, based on the combined scores of each school’s 25 highest-scoring students. Burntwood School came out on top with a hugely impressive 682,510. Close behind them were Northolt High School, last year’s champions, and Heath Mount School – both with scores of more than 500,000. The Genius Cup was created to enable schools of all sizes to compete fairly, and this year’s top 10 contained schools from all three tiers.

There were some phenomenal individual efforts from students, with 7 earning Grandmaster status by scoring more than 100,000 points. Our overall winner was Preethhi of Bunrtwood School, who finished the week just shy of the 200,000 mark, with one of the highest scores we have ever seen. Completing the Top 3 were Alexander of Haybridge High School and Adam of Fortismere, with fewer than 1000 points separating them! Alexander, the overall runner up, summarised the week as follows:

“It was both difficult and painful, but next year I’m taking first!”

The Dixie Grammar School were runaway victors in the Challenge Cup Piccolo, for schools with up to 150 registered students. Richard Thirlwell, head of MFL at the winning school, was delighted with his students’ efforts:

“It is great to see their competitive side come out in the languages we teach, but also the fun they have indulging in languages they have some earlier experience of or which are entirely new to them. We are proud of them all and the great team spirit they showed.”

Their score of 556,450 was on a par with much bigger schools – a fantastic achievement. Behind them in second and third place respectively were Lyndhurst House School and Copenhagen International School, one of a number of international schools taking part this year. Stephen Bristow, Head of French at the Danish school, reported a “fun at frantic” week:

“The element of competition – against themselves, the others in their class, and other schools really had them fired up and eager to keep going. The only negative thing about the Global Challenge was the number of times I had to keep checking the scoreboards to see how my students were doing – it became very addictive!”

The Challenge Cup Medio, for schools with between 150 and 500 registered students, there was a two-way fight for the top spot throughout the week. Cambridge International School built up a commanding lead over the first few days but came under sustained pressure from Heath Mount School towards the end. CIS eventually held out for the victory with an enormous points total of 834,670, with Heath Mount not far behind. It was a fantastic week for Heath Mount, who were runaway victors in both the Genius Cup and Challenge Cup Medio for French. Louise Henderson-Lea, Head of MFL at the school, described to us how they approach the Global Challenge:

“Our school ICT room becomes a hub of frenzied vocabulary-learning where the nature of the live scoreboard encourages even the most reluctant learners to participate. There is a determined buzz around the school – the pupils think they are ‘gaming’ yet the championship provides a huge amount of French revision prior to summer term exams.”

The lead changed hands numerous times in the Challenge Cup Grande, for schools with more than 500 registered students. The eventual winners with 1,152,440 points were Haybridge High School after a phenomenal final day, during which they leapfrogged Burntwood School and dug in to hold on to the top spot. Kevin Kilmartin, head of MFL at Haybridge, said,

“I’ve never seen such a buzz around the MFL department and I was so proud not only to win     the championships but also to see so many students of both sexes and of all ability levels so motivated and engaged in their language learning.”

The top four schools – Haybridge High School, Burntwood School, Watford Grammar School for Boys and GEMS Wellington Academy DSO in Dubai – broke the million point mark, joining an elite group of schools which have managed that feat since our first championship in 2011. Kate Cannaby, MFL Coordinator at the Dubai school, had the following to say:

“In an international school like ours, language learning is so important and we are very proud of all our GEMS Wellington Silicon Oasis students for getting involved so enthusiastically in the competition and reaching the million point mark.”

All leaderboards – including language-specific competitions – from the Global Challenge are available to view at Massive congratulations to all of the schools and students who participated and a huge thank you from the Vocab Express team for making the championship a success. We hope to see you on the start line again in September for the League of Champions 2016!

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