SCHOOLCHILDREN have held their own Eurovision Song Contest.

About 380 pupils from primary schools across the North East, including 11 in Durham, took part in the competition - which got them singing in a foreign language.

Held ahead of the real Eurovision in Copenhagen, the event at the Gala Theatre, in Durham, was designed to allow the children to hone their language skills in a fun and lively way.

“It has been really excellent,” said Brian Stobie, manager with organisers Europe Direct Manager. “We are proving to the young people just how capable they are of learning another language.

“A lot of these children have grown up in a very Anglo-centric world. It’s very important for them to understand the diversity of languages and to not be put off by people telling them learning a foreign language is pointless.”

The nine to ten-year-olds each had up to two and a half minutes to showcase their skills. Many sang in French, but other languages included Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Lithuanian, Spanish, German and Hungarian.

Each performance was awarded a score between one and five, so that no one ended up with the dreaded ‘nul points’, with the rest of the schools acting as judges.

The winning school, with a total of 114 points, was Escomb Primary School from Bishop Auckland, who sang Stand By Me in Lithuanian. They were awarded a trophy and some educational games by Councillor Pauline Charlton, Durham County Council’s Chairman.

“Eurovision is great fun and we are entering into the spirit of the occasion with this fun warm-up that also has the serious message that learning a foreign language is important and could lead to good job opportunities in later life,” she said.