Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

December's practice News Day

School Reporters at  Polesworth International Language College in Tamworth, Staffordshire
School Reporters at Polesworth International Language College
Teen knife crime, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown's gaffe, the closure of Woolworths, midwives, the congestion charge, the Stanstead airport protest and Sports Personality of the Year were just some of the new topics reported by students taking part in a practice News Day on Thursday 11 December.

Schools from Devon to Tyne and Wear took part in the dress rehearsal for the UK-wide News Day on 26 March 2009 - and one school in Essex linked up with pupils 5,000 miles away in Beijing.

Read the entries below to see how the day unfolded.


Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams on BBC Breakfast programme
Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams on BBC Breakfast programme
"Shoulders back, eyes forward, sit still and pronounce your words clearly and precisely", are just some of the presenting skills advocated by teacher Joan Bloomfield at Marden High School in North Shields.

The Year 8's, taking part in a practice News Day on 17 December, rehearsed their words in front of a camera after looking through the newspapers of the day.

Using BBC Breakfast presenters Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull as role models, 12 students learned when to look at the camera and when to turn to one another.

The group, which also took part in a practice News Day in November, are developing their team-working skills.

Joan Bloomfield said: "You hear them saying 'You go off an do that and I'll find out this and we'll put it together.' They are talking to each other more. Less is coming from the teachers and more from them as they gain in confidence."


Students at Polesworth International Language College in Tamworth, Staffordshire have uploaded their video news bulletin to their school website.

James and Laura report on a decrease in teen knife crime, while Chelsea and Katy interview staff and students about the contents of the school vending machines and healthy eating.

Lauren, 17, is interviewed about winning an award for developing the school's international links with Ghana, India, Poland and the bulletin ends with an "And finally" piece about a reindeer who has been given a fake antlers.


The race is on to publish the news at Polesworth International Language College in Tamworth, Staffordshire where nine School Reporters helped by three Sixth formers have been working hard all day.

Teacher Michelle Borders said that the students' lead story had been teenage knife crime. Their news would also contain an interview with star pupil Lauren, 17, who has just won the VSO international Student of the Year Award.

School Reporters at  Polesworth International Language College in Tamworth, Staffordshire
Katie, Laura and Chelsea, all 14, plan the lead story
School Reporters have also been vox popping people around the school about a new healthy schools initiative which means chocolate has been taken out of all vending machines. "They wanted to find out if students thought their human rights were being violated," Mrs Borders said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they've found out."

Mrs Borders added that they were working hard now to get the news published on the school website by their 1500 deadline.

The school have already created a web page for their work, which at 1500 will link to their report


Filiming is well underway according to teacher Hannah Driscoll at Brentside High School in Ealing. "The students have just finished making a piece about Barack Obama", she said.

Daniaal, 13, said that it had been a good day so far. "The day is going great. We started by researching stories to broadcast. We then wrote them in our own words. Now we have three headlines: Gordon Brown's gaffe, sport and weather. I wanted to do the story about Gordon Brown saying something he wasn't meant to say. He made a mistake. I am going to make my piece funny", he said.

Izmir, 13, said how much he liked School Report. It was good to learn to understand the news. "And it's good to get off timetable", he added!

He's looking at today's story that knife crime rates are dropping among teenagers. He said: "That's great because before, when teenagers used to use knives, adults used to be scared to let their children go to school on their own. I'm going to tell the story on the camera so that everyone can hear and then put it on the website."

Avalon, 12, is working on an NBA story because he likes the game very much. "I have been playing it for most of my life", he said, adding: "Kobe Bryant made the Los Angeles Lakers 87 and 81 and he won the game in the final. It's a very interesting news article and they are my second favourite team - Miami Heat are my favourite."

When asked about School Report, he said: "It's fun to learn about what is happening in the world. You find out new things and learn a lot."


School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
Chelsea and Simone, both 13, work on their video report
Chelsea and Simone, both 13, from Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex , tried their hand at filming for the first time today.

Vox-popping people about the closure of Woolworths, they found it invaluable to "Keep your arms tucked in so the camera doesn't wobble - and stand really still."

Commenting on the responses they received, the students said: "Most people were upset it is closing down. Some thought it was the company's fault for getting into debt, but most were concerned about the effect on the employees."

The pupils added: "We used to buy Pick and Mix sweets from the Woolworths just down the road. It's upsetting to think that a shop you grew up with just isn't going to be there any more."

School Reporters at Heathfield School, Pinner, Middlesex
Kerrthana, 14, from Heathfield School explores working mums and child-care
Kerrthana, 14, interviewed a school friend and a teacher about the pros and cons of children attending child-care provisions from a very early age, so their parents could continue working.

She said: "One teacher put her child in nursery from the age of six months until the age of two, and now regrets it.

"I started school when I was four and I originally thought that parents should be with their children, but having spoken to my friend, who started when she was two, I can also see the benefits of interacting with other children at slightly earlier age."

All of the people interviewed by Rebecca and Zahra, both 13, about the fur trade said that they would only wear fake fur.

Commenting on using the video camera, they said: "It was quite difficult getting the right angle and people would keep walking in front of the camera."

School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
Anchorperson Bashine works on her presentation skills
The six students' scripts were read out by anchorperson Bashine, 14, who also wrote the links.

She said: "I helped re-write some of the scripts to make them more simple and easier to understand.

"I'm just about to record them and feel confident about it because I know evetyone involved. I think I'll just keep looking straight at the wall."

Teacher Michelle Heryet explained that the seven students were adding practical skills to the theoretical understanding they gained during November's practice News Day. During this session, students watched several of the Huw Edwards video clips, while during today's News Day, the students focussed on structuring a single report, using a factual beginning, a middle containing an interview and a way of rounding it off.


"We're planning our questions and angle for our interview with our local MP Paul Clarke when he comes in tomorrow" said Hayley, 11, working with her friends Lanina and Emma at Rainham School for Girls, Gillingham, Kent.

She said they decided some of their topics to ask him after hearing what other girls were working on during Practice News Day.

"Some of our team have talked to people about chewing gum. We want to see if he will ban it from schools. It's disgusting when we find it under our tables. We also want to see if he'll put up more recycling bins and look at litter", said Hayley.

School Reporters at Rainham School for Girls, Gillingham, Kent
Shanna and Philippa, Year 7, working on a breaking news story
When asked how they were preparing for the interview, she explained that the School Report lessons had helped them with what to put in a report.

"We are using the 5 W's and 3 C's and trying to base our questions around that. We want to make sure we have open questions and not just ask things that give Yes or No answers", she said.

Teacher Jenny Benton explained that at the moment they weren't sure if they would make the 1400 deadline. "But we're all fine!" she added.

Ninety Year 7 pupils are taking part today and he school expect a further 90 students will take part during the next two practice News Days.

"On News Day itself we hope to work with between 60 and 100 girls", said Ms Benton.


The top stories at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex are the closure of Woolworths, wearing fur and the credit crunch.

Students are asking for people's views on the closure of the retail chain and finding out mums returning work due to the credit crisis, affects children.

They are also asking why wearing fur causes such a stir, on the back of Nigella Lawson's comments which have been criticised by animal rights' groups.

Teachers Michelle Heryet and Nanci Lister said: "Students are using the time today to develop their skills in interviewing and filming."


School Reporters at Rainham School for Girls, Gillingham, Kent
Chelsea and Adele interview Parris, a Year 11 young sports ambassador
Year 7's at Rainham School For Girls in Gillingham, Kent, have some interesting story ideas, according to teacher Anne Walker.

She said: "They are doing an investigation into the shortage of midwives, and are currently interviewing a sixth former who wants to be a midwife.

The schools is running School Report as part of the curriculum with Sixth formers acting as mentors.

Ms Walker said: "During period 3 they are speaking to one of our Year 11 girls who is a very promising athlete and a young sports ambassador."

She added that the students are hoping to get some interviews with Joe Swash from I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here, who is starring in Cinderella, the local pantomime in Chatham.

One pupil knows one of the children in the pantomime and will be interviewing them later.

Cycling is the focus of another story with students speaking to a teacher, who did a sponsored bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands End, and some Sixth formers, who did a sponsored static bike ride to Paris.


Brentside High School in Ealing, London
A newsroom at Brentside High School in Ealing, London
"Its going well and is very busy", said teacher Hannah Driscoll from Brentside High School in Ealing, London, above the noise of a manic news room. "The students are just starting to write their reports. They are getting the facts together and writing up. We hope to start filming at 1130."

Jamel, 12, and his partner Quincy, 12, have decided to focus on the youngest boy ever to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

"We're going fine", he said. "We started by knowing what story we wanted to write, and then began to look at what our headline might be".

When asked why they chose that particular story, he said: "If it interests me, I reckon it'll interest other people."

He added: "School Report is fun. It gives us a chance to be on TV or on the internet."

School Reporters at Brentside High School in Ealing, London
A second newsroom at Brentside High School in Ealing, London
Other stories being looked at by Brentside High School Reporters are: the sale of Woolworths, knife crime, men's reading habits, pirate CDs, Barack Obama, Manchester United and Arsenal football games, the England Cricket Team in India and the weather.

Ms Driscoll said: "I think it's really good opportunity for the students to become more aware of the news making process. It makes them more interested in other news and local news."


BBC video journalist Kate Simms worked with students from five schools from Runcorn and Widnes at Runcorn City Learning Centre (CLC) on Tuesday 9 December.

Pupils from Chesnut Lodge School, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College, The Heath Technology College, The Grange Comprehensive School and Halton High School were involved in the practice News Day.

Widnes CLC manager Ray Weaver explained: "She worked with all the teams and spent a lot of time in our studio broadcasting to the pupils and giving them a wealth of advice and feedback.

"We set up a series of editorial meetings and asked each school to pitch story ideas to Kate in the studio which we broadcasted to the classrooms.

"Kate then gave forthright feedback on the ideas, before the teams redrafted their work.

"We then did a series of live reports at 2pm, followed by feedback and a question and answer session - and all of the output and feedback was recorded."

Runcorn CLC manager Nick Amyes explained that one student, who was writing about the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award, used his father, who had met three of the nominees, as a news source.

Titles of other stories which students worked on include:

• Leona Lewis' new single.

• Who will will win the X-Factor final?

• A Halton youth has been accused of shoplifting: Is it because he was wearing a hoody?

• The impact of removing cigarettes from displays and the effect it will have on young people.

• What impact will a measles outbreak have on schools?


A green screen has been set up for about 15 Year 9 students from St Augustine of Canterbury Roman Catholic High School in Oldham, Lancashire, in preparation for their practice News day on Monday 15 December.

Media Centre manager Chris Roberts said: "The students really like the facility and are always harassing me to get the green screen up during Media Club. We are getting the centre to look as much like a studio as possible."

While most of the Gifted and Talented students involved will be working on the news of the day, some have already gathered footage of a Children in Need event and undergraduates talking about university life at Oxford. Other students aim to produce a video report about the proposed congestion charge in Manchester.

The Year 9 students plan to assist the Year 7 and 8 students who are also taking part in School Report.


Thirty Year 8's have started their practice News Day at Brentside High School in Ealing, London.

They are currently holding their news meeting and beginning to select their news stories for the day.


School Reporters at at Mayfield School and College, Dagenham, Essex
Imitating animals for a video link biology lesson with Beijing
Year 8 pupils at Mayfield School in Dagenham, Essex, have had their first physics and biology lessons - with teachers that are more than 5000 miles away.

Connecting up via video link with 125 School, Beijing in Hao Rui, students watched live experiments happening in the Chinese classroom.

Teacher John Westwood said that the students seemed a bit tongue-tied at first but by the time they had to imitate animals for biology they and the Chinese teachers were all falling about laughing.

School Reporters at at Mayfield School and College, Dagenham, Essex
Mayfield students watch live physics experiments fom China
He added: "The implications are huge, sharing lessons like this. Our hope is soon to have our English staff talking to their students in English."

Students loved the Chinese lantern experiment where the Chinese physics teacher lit a piece of cotton soaked in alcohol below a light bin liner. "The liner rose to the ceiling like a hot air balloon. We were all waiting for the ceiling to catch on fire, " said Mr Westwood.

Jordan, 12, watched the experiments and liked the experiment where liquid was transferred from one ball to another. "It's been really good", he said and agreed he was looking forward to having more link ups. "The teachers all seem very joyful", he added.


The Stanstead airport protest and local seagulls were just two of the news topics reported by students at South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon, during a practice New Day on Wednesday 10 December 2008.

Head of Media and Film Studies at the school, Carly Stuart, explained that the students were using the national press, the school newspaper - Connections - and the school's Deep Learning scheme , where all students are off-timetable, as news sources.

The 53 students were divided into seven news teams; each group reporting one national and two school-based events.

Editor Hannah, 18, said: "We filmed the Year 9 students in the library during their lessons about the Holocaust. I like reporting on school events because it has a lot to do with what is happening to you as a person."

She added: "It's challenging, organising the group, making sure everything runs smoothly and fitting all of it together."

The School Report lesson plans were adapted for the 14 to 19-year-olds, who took part in the practice News Day as the media activity of the Deep Learning programme.

Students ditched the images they had planned to use in favour of copyright-cleared ones, after watching a video clip of the BBC's Huw Edwards explain this aspect of media law.

Ms Stuart said: "This builds on the students' understanding of the Press Complaints Commission, which they previously studied."

It is hoped that the Year 10, 11, 12 and 13 students who took part in Wednesday's practice News Day will be able to mentor students from Years 7, 8 and 9 during the UK-wide News Day on 26 March 2009.


Brentside High School, Ealing, London

Mayfield School and College, Dagenham, Essex

Polesworth International Language College, Tamworth, Staffordshire

Marsden Heights Community College, Nelson, Lancashire

Rainham School for Girls, Gillingham, Kent

Heathfield School, Pinner, Middlesex

Marden High School, Cullercoats, North Shields, Tyne And Wear


South Dartmoor Community College, Ashburton, Devon (10 December)

Glaitness School, Kirkwall, Orkney (17 December)

Conyers School, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire (two practice News Days before Christmas)

Whitton School, Whitton, Twickenham, Middlesex (on 3 December)

St Augustine of Canterbury RC High, Werneth, Oldham, Lancashire (15 December)

Shuttleworth College, Padiham, Burnley, Lancashire at Burnley CLC (in December)

Sir James Smith's Humanities College, Camelford, Cornwall (24 November)

Chesnut Lodge School, Widnes, Cheshire, at Runcorn CLC (9 December)

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College, Widnes, Cheshire, at Runcorn CLC (9 December)

Halton High School, Runcorn, Cheshire, at Runcorn CLC (9 December)

The Grange Comprehensive School, Runcorn, Cheshire, at Runcorn ClC (9 December)

The Heath School, Runcorn, Cheshire, at Runcorn CLC (9 December)

Featherstone High School, Southall, Middlesex, at Ealing CLC (2 December)

Brentside High School, Ealing, London, at Ealing CLC (8 December)

Villiers High School, Southall, Middlesex at Ealing CLC (10 December)

Take part in a practice News Day
11 Dec 08 |  School Report
November's Practice News Day
14 Nov 08 |  Student reports

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