Competition Rules

  1. The competition is organised by 500 Words (Children) Limited. 500 Words is supported by Wireless Group in a co-production partnership.
  2. The Wireless Competition Rules apply to this competition. You can read more about them here: Wireless Competition Rules.
  3. Entry to this competition is open to persons who will be aged between 5 and 13 years on the 17th July 2020 who are full time residents of the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) except the children or close relatives of employees of Wireless Group or its affiliates, or the children or close relatives of any person closely connected with the competition. Entries must be submitted by an adult (parent/guardian or teacher) on behalf of the child; this adult must have parental permission. This adult may be asked, with parental permission, to provide proof of age, identity and eligibility. Entry will be in two age categories – ages 5 to 9 years (on 17th July 2020) and 10 to 13 years (on 17th July 2020).
  4. Entrants must write a fictional short story (no more than 500 words in length). Entry is via an online entry form available at The responsible adult submitting the story on behalf of the entrant, will be asked to provide the entrant’s name, gender, region and their age and ensure that they have parental permission to do so. The submitter must enter the child’s story in the text box provided for submission.
  5. All stories should be submitted in English.
  6. We can only accept stories which are 500 words or fewer according to the word counter on the online submission form; we cannot accept word counts from any other software. Please make sure you check the word count on our form if you are pasting from another piece of software, such as Microsoft Word.
  7. Entries can only be accepted online; postal entries or entries sent over email will not be read or considered. Entries sent over email before the deadline because of technical errors will not be considered.
  8. The adult submitting the entrant’s story, will be required to approve the entry and agree to these Rules (including Wireless Group and 500 Words (Children) Limited’s use of the story submitted and the fictional nature of the story) on behalf of the entrant, by way of a check-box in the online form. The adult may be the child’s parent, guardian or teacher. The adult must provide their own contact and personal details (not the child’s). Teachers submitting stories on behalf of pupils must seek parental permission and if requested by 500 Words (Children) Limited, provide evidence of permission in the event of an enquiry or complaint.
  9. Of all entries submitted, all shall be read by the public judges. After marking by the public judges, the highest scoring 2500 entries will be professionally read by The Reading Agency who shall suggest the top 16 entries on the point marking system to the Judging Panel. The judging panel will then select the top 8 stories which shall be read, 2 stories a day, from 13th to 16th July on Virgin Radio. The Judges in their sole choice will then select the two finalists and these will be read on Virgin Radio on Friday 17th July and the judges shall announce the winning story.
  10. Entries open Monday 29th June at 06.30 and close 11.59pm Friday 3rd July. Submissions received outside of this time frame will not, under any circumstances be considered, so 500 Words (Children) Limited advises users not to wait until the last minute to submit entries. The 500 Words website receives a lot of entries in the last few hours of the competition. 500 Words (Children) Limited cannot be held to account if the website runs slowly.
  11. If users have emailed the administrators and are awaiting a response, the competition deadline still stands. Unless the competition administrators have explicitly instructed otherwise, all users must submit stories before the deadline in order to be considered in the competition.
  12. Entrants can only enter individually. Only one entry per person is permitted and the story must be wholly written by the entrant only; stories cannot be written by more than one person. If more than one entry is submitted, only the entrant's first submission will be considered.
  13. If entrants are unclear on whether the content of a story contradicts these Rules, they may email the competition administrators at The entrant’s parent, guardian or teacher warrants that they have not used material or depicted events that actually took place or used the personal details of any living persons in the story. As the stories will be published it is important that entrants do not include any personal details about themselves. The entrant must not include their name in the title or body of the story; entries which do contain this information may be removed from the competition.
  14. Entries cannot be returned so please remember to retain a copy. Unsuccessful entrants will be contacted in respect of their entry but no feedback on any entry will be provided.
  15. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. 500 Words (Children) Limited accepts no responsibility if entrants ignore these Rules and the entrant’s parent, guardian or teacher agrees to indemnify 500 Words (Children) Limited against any claim by any third party from any breach of these Rules.
  16. Entries must not contain defamatory, obscene, offensive, or any other unsuitable material; 500 Words (Children) Limited reserves the right to disqualify entries containing such matter. Entries must be suitable to be broadcast, published or used online by Virgin Radio and / or 500 Words (Children) Limited for audiences of all ages, but in particular for a child audience. Please see the following for further information: Ofcom Broadcasting Code, If the story has troubling content 500 Words(Children) Limited may if required take advice from the NSPCC, and may refer the Troubling Content to the relevant authorities.
  17. Entrants retain the copyright in their entries but their parent or guardian grants to 500 Words (Children) Limited a perpetual non-exclusive royalty-free sub-licensable licence to publish, analyse, broadcast (across all media) and post the entry online and on any other platforms yet to be envisaged. This licence will be deemed to include all the necessary rights and permissions to enable such use by the 500 Words (Children) Limited, to fulfil the prizes and to complete the administration of this competition.
  18. By submitting a story the entrant’s parent or guardian agrees that 500 Words (Children) Limited may at its sole discretion edit, adapt, abridge or translate the entry for the purposes listed in clause 17 above.
  19. Entrants agree in clause 17 that 500 Words (Children) Limited and / or Wireless Group may publish the stories on their website(s) for the duration of 5 years, after which all names and attribution will be removed.
  20. In the event that the entry is read out on air on Virgin Radio or published online, for the avoidance of doubt, this will not be part of, or influence in any way, the judging process. Only the story title, entrant’s name and age will be published with an entry.
  21. Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
    • Originality
    • Plot
    • Characterisation
    • Language
    • Enjoyment
  22. The first round will be judged by teachers and librarians across the UK. Each teacher and librarian will receive a batch of anonymised stories, from entrants located in a different area of the UK, to read and score using the criteria above. Each teacher and librarian will be emailed all stories (via a secure login) along with details of the criteria and how to score the stories. The 2500 highest scored entries from this round will be put through to the next round. This process will be overseen by a 500 Words (Children) Limited Editorial Figure. Parents or teachers of entrants may sign up to judge in the competition.
  23. The 2500 highest scored entries from the first round of judging will be collated and considered by a judging panel from The Reading Agency, in partnership with a 500 Words (Children) Limited Editorial Figure. The Reading Agency panel will read and score these anonymised stories using the criteria above, to produce a shortlist of the top 16 entries The Top 16 stories will be verified by 500 Words (Children) Limited and the ages and identities of the writers confirmed.
  24. These top 16 entries will be read and judged by a guest panel chaired by Angellica Bell and Michael Underwood.
  25. Entrants give their permission that any story may be read out on air by any person including well-known figures and that up to 100 stories may be published in a book where the proceeds go to a literacy charity.
  26. The parents or guardians of the top 8 successful entrants will be contacted by a member of the production team by 12th July 2020 further proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested at this stage. 500 Words (Children) Limited will contribute a limited amount towards travel expenses and endeavour where possible to provide one twin hotel room to share for the child and a parent or guardian to attend the broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky between 13th and 17th July however 500 Words (Children) Limited cannot cover any additional travel and accommodation that may be incurred by any other family or friends of the entrant, and it may be that due to social distancing rules, the final week of the competition will only involve the finalist being contacted remotely by phone or other electronic communication means.
  27. 500 Words (Children) Limited's decision as to each stage of this competition is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
  28. 500 Words (Children) Limited and Wireless Group reserve the right to disqualify any entry which breaches any of these Rules, brings the 500 Words (Children) Limited or Wireless Group into disrepute or to withhold a prize if in its opinion entries do not reach the required standard.
  29. 500 Words (Children) Limited and Wireless Group reserve the right to amend these Rules or cancel this competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  30. 500 Words (Children) Limited and Wireless Group, its subcontractors, subsidiaries, agencies and/or any other organisation associated with this competition cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem with any server, Internet access, system or otherwise which may result in any entry being lost or not properly registered or recorded. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.
  31. These Rules are governed by the laws of England and Wales. This service is subject to the Wireless Group Terms of Use. The Wireless Group Privacy Policy applies.