Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Story ideas for 2011 News Day

School Reporters at Hounsdown School look at their pictures
Planning stories in advance gives you plenty of time to edit your material

Not all BBC news stories are created from scratch on the day they are broadcast - and yours don't have to be either.

Of course some stories appear out of the blue and require some swift work to establish the facts, but many are the result of forward planning and careful preparation.

Preparing for upcoming events allows you to do research, put in calls to people you might like to interview, decide what pictures will best suit your story and polish your script.

If you start planning and developing story ideas now, you'll be in a much better position to cover any breaking news on the News Day on 24 March.

Below are some suggestions for stories that you could set up in advance, and ideas that are likely to be topical come News Day.


With the first ever School Report Survey running this year, the results from your school could make the ideal story for your bulletin.

Pupils fill out the School Report Survey
Pupils from Hendon School fill out the School Report Survey

For advice on reporting statistics, why not check out our lesson plan or the BBC College of Journalism's guide to reporting statistics.

Some of the themes of the Survey include young people's opinions on their homes, family and friends; how they like to spend their leisure time and the amount of exercise they do; and views on a range of topics including the Royal family and the 2012 Olympics.

The Official Census is taking place in England and Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland just three days after this year's News Day, potentially providing a great news "peg" for stories.

It could be the last ever census of its kind as the government considers new methods of collecting data, making it an especially historic occasion.

Perhaps you could interview older relatives or people about local history, while it is also possible to search the archives of censuses from 1841 to 1911 (although there may be a charge for viewing documents).


Sport is always an area full of stories, and there are plenty of big events taking place which could make ideal material for your reports this year.

India are among the favourites for the Cricket World Cup
India will host the Cricket World Cup along with Sri lanka and Bangladesh

The Cricket World Cup gets under way on 19 February and runs all the way up to 2 April, giving ample opportunity to get reporting.

Does your school or local area have any links with players at the tournament? Or perhaps you are twinned with a school from another country taking part?

Football never fails to capture the interest of some School Reporters, and with the home nations in European Championship qualifying action in the days after News Day and the domestic and European campaigns in full swing, there are plenty of potential stories.

The build-up to the Olympic Games in 2012 is gathering pace with 15 March marking 500 days to go until the start of the multi-sport extravaganza.

There are numerous championships and events in all kinds of Olympic sports taking place in the UK this year. Are any of them near your school, or do they feature local sporting stars?

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 are also on the horizon, while this year's Six Nations tournament reaches its climax on 19 March, just a few days before News Day - is this a topic that you would like to pursue?

And don't forget that there is a School Report Sports Day on Thursday 30 June 2011, which is just like School Report News Day, except that the focus is sports news. Perhaps there are reports which your students could produce for News Day and then follow up for Sports Day? Have a look at last year's Sports Day coverage for inspiration.


Red Nose Day is taking place on 18 March and your school and local community may well be "doing something funny for money".

The Wanted in their red noses
The Wanted are singing this year's official Comic Relief single

The teachers' section on Comic Relief's website is packed full of ideas for how to raise money. It also allows you to order or download a free pack containing an interactive CD-ROM, posters, balloons and stickers!

Comic Relief aims to raise money for those who live tough lives, so another possible angle to this story is to examine some of the harsh realities people face, such as sleeping on the streets.

There are some resources about such topics on the Comic Relief website that teachers might find useful.

George Osborne outside 11 Downing Street
Chancellor George Osborne will announce his budget on 23 March

It has been difficult to avoid reading about the UK's finances over the last few months, and with the Budget taking place on 23 March - the day before News Day - there are likely to be more stories to investigate.

Again, it could be a fantastic news "peg" on which to hang a story that you have researched and prepared in advance.

You could look at areas that have been directly affected by cuts or changes that have taken place in local services.

How has your local community or area been affected by the financial problems in the UK?


World Poetry Day on 21 March provides a great opportunity for you to link up with children from young people from other parts of the world.

Or you could look into the work of local poets, whether they are contemporary writers or figures from literary history.


News Day falls right in the middle of the UK's first ever Climate Week and the event could be a good way to look at issues around climate change.

With the likes of David Cameron, Sir Paul McCartney, Mark Ronson, Manchester United and Sienna Miller all giving their support to the week, there is plenty of celebrity involvement to help develop interest.

Perhaps your school has introduced changes with an eye on helping the environment. Why not use Climate Week as a way to tell your story. You might also like to look at the way School Reporters covered the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.


A photo of Mercury, taken by the Messenger spacecraft
A photo of Mercury, taken by the Messenger spacecraft

On 18 March, Nasa spacecraft Messenger will make history by becoming the first to orbit the planet Mercury. If this is the sort of story that ignites your imagination, why not look into a space-based report.

Or you could use this as a launching pad for other scientific stories with The Big Bang Fair, running 10-12 March in London's ExCeL Centre - a good place to look for inspiration.

It's also National Science and Engineering Week from 11 to 20 March, with about 3,500 events running all over the UK to celebrate and showcase science, engineering and technology and its importance in our lives. 


Another event taking place in the week of News Day is World Water Day. March 22 is used by the United Nations to remind people around the globe about the massive problems of water shortages.

You could use the annual event to investigate the problem of global water shortages, or look at the issue closer to home. How are people in your community working to conserve water? Are local politicians doing something to help?


The issue of childhood obesity often makes the headlines in newspapers, with lots of stories warning about the high levels of fat, salt and sugar in some foods and drinks.

Is this a subject matter that interests you? Perhaps your school has launched a campaign to raise awareness about healthy eating.

You could approach this issue by doing a report about your school dinners and/or your sports facilities.


Does your school have links to another school in the UK or abroad? Do you have a student exchange programme?

Perhaps you could be one of the schools to run your own "live events" web page on 24 March - by ringing up other schools to find out what they are doing and writing it up for your website.

You could use the pupils at your link schools as correspondents. That way, you can find out first-hand about stories in another part of the UK - or in another country entirely - without leaving the classroom.


Is there something unique about your school which would make an interesting report? Do you have an unusual after-school club or a school farm?

Or maybe there is a particularly issue about your school you'd like to investigate such as the state of your school toilets or a lack of classrooms?

You could report on any event that your school is involved in. Ask your teachers and classmates about activities taking place in the next few weeks.


There may well be specific local events going on in your area in March, so keep an eye out on local listings and the local press for possible story ideas to cover.

It is also well worth checking whether your local bookshops have any author signings or workshops planned that you could attend. You could arrange to do an interview while you are at the event. Similarly, what's on at the local theatre or playhouse?

Please do contact the team about your ideas. They maybe able to provide some help.

School Report Survey: Introductory Lesson
03 Feb 11 |  Teachers' resources
Getting celebrities involved in School Report
16 Nov 10 |  School Report


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