Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Thursday, 25 November 2010

School Report: Help for teachers new to the project

Teachers
Teachers offer colleagues advice on how to run a School Report News Day

Teachers from several schools that took part in School Report in previous years share their advice on how to deliver the project.

WHY SHOULD I DO SCHOOL REPORT?

Improving English and ICT, developing citizenship and even stopping bullying were all among the reasons why schools have chosen to take part in School Report.

Student writing
Learning about the skills of journalism has boosted literacy and confidence levels among the students
Teacher Vesna Klein

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said his school chose to participate "because it was a chance to extend and enrich our media curriculum in a way that the students would also see as being relevant to the real world".

He added: "Having the kudos of the BBC brand and support behind it made it a genuine work-experience type affair for the students, who actually got to do real journalism with a real concrete outcome. It wasn't just a dry classroom-based simulation."

Teacher Lisa Plowman, from Longsands College in Cambridgeshire, said: "School Report has encouraged staff to use interactive whiteboards, of which some teachers were previously wary, and to download material, which they would not have otherwise done.

"It has been really beneficial in terms of staff CPD (Continuing Professional Development)."

Teacher Vesna Klein, from Brentside High School in Ealing, London, said that learning journalistic skills has helped many pupils boost their literacy and confidence levels, while Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "We are always looking for different ways to enrich the curriculum and this, with its basis in communication and writing skills, seemed ideal."

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "It built students' confidence and self-esteem, improved their communication skills and widened their horizons."

Sherrill Townsend from Brentside High School said there was an "added benefit from School Report because of the whole issue of verbal bullying in our school". Pupils felt more confident in expressing their opinions

WHICH STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE PART?

School Report aims to involved students between the ages of 11-16.

The BBC would like as many students as possible from each school to take part, but it is down to each school to run the project in whichever way suits them best.

Many teachers, who have been involved for more than a year, choose to work with increasingly larger groups as they become increasingly familiar with the project.

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "A large number and range of students were involved. A handful came on the recommendation of the English department but others were selected because of the benefits it would give them."

We wanted to engage the middle band of students. The children loved working together and fed off each other
Teacher Annabel Gibbs

Teacher Annabel Gibbs, from Guildford County School in Surrey, said: "24 pupils took part. They were picked from four top and middle sets.

"The students who took part in School Report were of mixed ability. We wanted to engage the middle band of students.

"The mixture of pupils in the group worked really well. The children loved working together and fed off each other."

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said their group was "self-selecting".

"All students in the year group were invited to apply to be part of the team," he said.

"They had to submit a story idea and a list of potential interviewees and questions that covered all sides of the piece. The best, most original, interesting or thoroughly planned ones were picked."

BBC journalist Nell Gordon, who mentored the students at William Howard School in Cumbria, said: "Students who wanted to be involved wrote to the teacher explaining why they would like to be given the opportunity to take part."

WHAT MEDIA SHOULD WE CHOOSE?

Schools taking part in School Report in the past have chosen to use a range of media. Many specialised in one area, several combined two media, while some made video, audio and text-based news reports.

Alim Shaikh
We focused on TV news because it excites and captivates students
Teacher Alim Shaikh

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "We chose online because of the technological restraints at the school.

"Also, during the practice sessions for teachers, it became apparent that the recording or broadcasting equipment provided another layer of potential problems and got in the way of the real task at hand - originating and writing decent stories."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "We used radio: this was suggested by our BBC mentor whose particular area this is.

"The children are used to writing newspaper articles but have not had the same exposure to radio bulletins.

"They were all keen to be newsreaders and really loved going round the school recording vox pops with other pupils and members of staff. There is an immediacy about radio that is appealing to pupils."

Ealing City Learning Centre manager Alim Shaikh said: "We focused on TV news because it excites and captivates students."

Andy Wallis, a teacher at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire, said his school chose to make radio reports because they were working with BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

He added: "We also felt that the equipment would be easier for students to deal with, allowing them to focus on the actual reporting."

Students at Coombeshead College in Devon used four media: print, text-based web pages, video and audio. Teacher Sue White, said: "It was great for the students to see BBC news crews in action and to experience the real 'buzz' of live interviews."

WHO ELSE SHOULD I INVOLVE?

Across the UK, ICT staff, head teachers, City Learning Centres, nearby schools, parents and older pupils have helped teachers deliver School Report.

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "The school's technical support manager helped put the documents on the webpage on the News Day itself."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "I involved a small group of Year 9 pupils in writing the webpage, and a Year 10 pupil won the competition for composing the best jingle.

"On the day, we had the benefit of the help of a parent/journalist - he was a great asset in helping pupils to edit their scripts as they tended to be too wordy."

Rednock High School in Gloucestershire involved other members of staff including the Head of Year 8 and the Head of Student Support.

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "We involved technicians as well as teachers." The school also included the humanities team of teachers and some sixth formers.

HOW SHOULD WE USE THE RESOURCES ON THE WEBSITE?

A series of six printable lesson plans form the core resource on this website. Teachers taking part in School Report adapted the plans to suit their classes.

Will Halsey
We chose to distill the six lesson plans on the website into a one-day workshop for a small group of students
Teacher Will Halsey

Sylvia Simmonds, at Elmfield School for Deaf Children in Bristol, said School Report can suit any child's needs.

She encouraged her students to use mind maps and spider diagrams to plan their news topics and questions.

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "All students were given access to the lessons during our regular media unit teaching time."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "I used the lesson plans in a series of six after-school sessions in the lead up to News Day, allowing pupils to become familiar with the project and to hone their skills."

Andy Wallis, a teacher at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire, said: "We ran after-school sessions on Wednesdays where we went through many of the resources and lesson plans."

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "English teachers used the lesson plans. The plans and the resources on the website were useful. Especially useful was the Huw Edwards DVD."

Teacher Will Halsey, from Acton High School in Ealing, London, said: "We chose to distil the six lesson plans into a one-day workshop for a small group of students. They found, gathered and wrote their news scripts during the first half of the day and assembled, edited and delivered them in the afternoon."

Additional resources can be accessed by through the Useful links page on this site. Further resources can be found by typing "School Report" and a key word into the search engine in the top right corner of BBC News web pages.

HOW SHOULD WE USE THE BBC MENTOR?

The BBC will deploy journalists and other members of as many schools as possible. However, due to the number of participating schools, not every school can expect a mentor.

Coombeshead College in Devon made use of their mentor during the run-up to a previous News Day. Teacher Sue White said: "They arranged a visit to a press conference with Torquay United and a trip to Royal Marine Base Chivenor.

Annabel Gibbs
Our BBC mentor was vital to the success of News Day
Teacher Annabel Gibbs

"They really related to the students and the students gained a great deal from working with real journalists."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "Our BBC mentor was vital to the success of News Day.

"Her experience was invaluable and she gave everyone the confidence to produce some excellent work. She and I worked very closely together in the months leading up to the day which I think was an important factor in making it the success it was."

Teacher Will Halsey, from Acton High School in Ealing, London, said: "In order to improve the relationship with the mentor, it is good to have some contact before they come into school.

"A phone call, to run through the programme and to discuss what will be going on in the session is really useful."

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "Our mentor was a local radio engineer, who was very enthusiastic and had some expertise to share.

"We used him to 'plug' the original application process during year group assemblies, and then as an 'expert' on hand to look at how the stories were shaping up in the weeks leading up to the News Day, and on the day itself."

Andy Wallis at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire said: "The mentors initially talked to the students about their jobs and how radio news worked. They also helped us with equipment and on-the-day technical support. They were fantastic!"

HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR THE NEWS DAY?

Schools can held practice News Days or ran additional classes to help prepare for School Report News Day.

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "From January onwards, we had at least one 45-minute out-of-school-time session with the team every week.

"We used the session to prepare the timeless stories to go on the website on the News Day and to learn how to set up guests and write the copy."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School said: "We did lots of planning and anticipating possible problems! It was important that everyone knew what their role was and was well-prepared.

"We also had some recordings from our practice News Day which we knew we could use if need be."

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "We had visits from our mentors and held staff planning meetings. The students also had some lunchtime 'news conferences'."

WHAT KIND OF NEWS SHOULD WE REPORT?

Students and teachers chose school-based, local, national, international, sport, entertainment and other genres of news for their bulletins.

The students selected their own news from a mixture of current national and international news, from newspapers, TV and radio
Teacher Andy Wallis

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said his students made school-based, local, national, international sport and weather reports; all with a local angle.

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School said: "We covered a mixture of school-based, local, national, international news and weather. One of the exciting aspects of the day was allowing pupils the freedom to choose their own stories and then hearing or seeing the same stories reported elsewhere."

Andy Wallis, a teacher at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire, said: "The students selected their own news from a mixture of current national and international news, from newspapers, TV and radio. They also decided to include more local news with a focus on our new school build."

BBC journalist Alex Robertson who worked with Shawlands Academy in Glasgow on a past News Day, said: "Students produced an explosive piece of original journalism about asylum seekers, featuring the experience of a pupil at the school.

"It was amazing to see them researching a story from within the school about subject which is a huge issue in Scotland.

"Their report was featured by BBC Scotland and Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, published an article about it on the School Report website after speaking to one of the students on the phone."

WHAT DO I DO WHEN THINGS GO WRONG?

No matter how well prepared you are, there are always unexpected problems. Here's some examples of what teachers who have taken part in School Report in the past found troublesome.

There were one or two minor technical hitches but they were resolved by students working with staff
Teacher Sue White

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "The only real problems on the day were down to poor organisation and planning on behalf of the students. Sometimes they assumed that interviewees would be on hand and available to talk at their beck and call, and so some stories didn't get published because interviewing was left to the last minute."

Andy Wallis, a teacher at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire, said parts of interviews were accidentally recorded over. Students also had problems with editing software.

"We resolved most of these problems with compromise and ultimately, by doing it again," he said.

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "There were one or two minor technical hitches but they were resolved by students working with staff.

"Our students worked from 7.15am to 7.30pm so were pretty tired at the end of the day, but a working breakfast of croissants, and lunchtime sandwiches and fruit, supplied by our canteen, kept them going and helped to stop tempers fraying!"

HOW CAN WE MAXIMISE CREDIT FOR OUR WORK?

Local papers, radio and television stations were some ways teachers promoted School Report. Others chose assemblies, displays and newsletters.

Teacher Lisa Plowman, from Longsands College in Cambridgeshire, said: "We were keen that other students should be able to see what had gone on so we held an assembly during which we showed the students' work, accessing it via the link on the BBC website."

Students from Park High School in Merseyside receive their School Report certificates
Park High Specialist Sports College in Birkenhead held an awards ceremony to congratulate pupils, who debated live on BBC Radio Liverpool

Robert Baldock, a teacher at the Reading School in Berkshire, said: "We had help in getting one of our stories on to Matthew Bannister's BBC Radio 5 live programme.

"We did a live radio-car link up on the morning of the event, and then the programme did a follow-up piece the next week. Inside the school, there was a lot of publicity in assemblies, newsletters and emails, and a display of the work has been put up in the Learning Resource Centre.

"Our School Report web page was accessible from the school's intranet home page and the external school website too."

Annabel Gibbs, a teacher at Guildford County School, said: "I arranged for a photographer from the local paper to come in and we also had a plug on BBC Southern Counties Radio."

Andy Wallis, a teacher at Rednock High School in Gloucestershire, said: "We had numerous local papers in during the day. Our mentor organised access to local radio."

Sue White, a teacher at Coombeshead College in Devon, said: "We contacted all the local press which gave a big boost to the students involved and to the college as a whole."



SEE ALSO
Teachers' feedback
02 Jun 09 |  School Report


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