British Student Crowned Excel World Champion

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A British schoolgirl is the new Microsoft Excel world champion, triumphing at the finals in San Diego

A British student was crowned Microsoft Excel world champion after coming out on top of a field of 79 finalists in San Diego on Tuesday.

Competitors performed timed tests to demonstrate their skill at making spreadsheets, reports the BBC, and Rebecca Rickwood, 15, clinched the $5,000 (around £3,000) prize in the Excel 2007 category of the Microsoft Office World Championships without making a single mistake.

Specialist school

She said: “I heard my name read out in first place and I just couldn’t believe it. I’m ecstatic, I just can’t believe I won and now I’m world champion. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”

Rebecca is a pupil at Sawtry Community College, Cambridgeshire, a specialist maths and computing secondary school.

The school runs extra-curricular classes in Microsoft software and Rebecca developed her skills with practice at lunch times and after school.

She first entered the competition through regional heats back in October 2010. In all, 228,000 students entered from 57 countries.

World champions were also crowned in Word 2007, Word 2010, Excel 2010 and PowerPoint 2007. Rebecca was the only category winner from outside of Asia.

Most UK school pupils are exposed to Microsoft products in ICT lessons and across the curriculum, gaining skills which will stand them in good stead in the workplace. However, the reliance on Microsoft products has drawn criticism from those wanting education to cover computer science as well as office app, and from open source advocates, who say the Microsoft emphasis reinforces the company’s dominance and ignores cheaper and more liberating alternatives such as LibreOffice and OpenOffice, which now includes IBM’s Lotus Symphony code.

The current government has promised greater use of open source, and abolished the BECTA education ICT quango, which was criticised in some quarters for its cosy relationship with Microsoft

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