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BBC News Interactive School ReportBBC News Interactive School Report
Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 17:47 GMT
January's practice News Day
Map of School Report schools in the UK

School Reporters across the UK took part in a practice News Day on Thursday 17 January.

Having researched national news stories including the decline in popularity of Geography, school admissions and severe weather, students took ownership of the stories by investigating the effect in their schools.

Pupils also took the initiative to interview members of the local community, including the head of communications at the Honda car factory in Swindon, as well as deputy and head teachers.

This page provides a summary of news-making activities in schools throughout the day and links to dedicated news pages on some school websites.

More links will also be added to the clickable map, which provides a summary of the School Report work already undertaken by schools.

If your school is running a practice News Day in January, and you have not already informed the School Report team, please contact them with a view to featuring your students on the BBC website. The team's e-mail address is schoolreport@bbc.co.uk

TUES 29 JAN :: EAR WAX GETS NEWS TREATMENT

School Reporters at the City of Ely Community College in Cambridgeshire found out just where not to stick a cotton bud on their practice News Day.

Making great use of resources close at hand, they interviewed the school's first-aider who explained how to clean out their ears.

Students also interviewed their head teacher about sex education and explored how safe they felt playing football in the street.

The school's BBC mentor, Patrick Davies, said: "It was a fabulous day. I am hugely impressed by the commitment and level of skill shown by everyone. Roll on School Report News Day!

TUES 22 JAN 1737 :: DRIVING FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Around 40 students from Lenzie Academy in East Dunbartonshire developed their news story ideas on 22 January, and several reports were published on the school website.

Scott, 14, who is visually impaired, researched a new piece of technology designed to assist drivers with a visual impairment.

He explained: "It's a type of camera which sharpens the image of the road ahead and displays it on piece of transparent glass in front of your eyes."

He added: "I felt this story was important because it can really change lives. It's good for people to know how it works."

Scott also emailed the university, where the technology is being developed, to find out more information.

Melanie, 14, wrote a feature about a school trip to Disneyland, Paris, where students attended Maths lectures about the geometry of the rides and the theme park's budget.

She said: "My friends and I started our report with a description of us adjusting the arm chairs on the plane because we wanted to the effect of bringing the reader along with us."

Students also worked with their BBC mentor, Chris Sleight to produce video reports, which will also be uploaded to the school website.

On March 13 - School Report News Day - they will be pieced together with breaking news to form a news programme.

FRI JAN 18 1727 :: TEAMWORK LEADS TO TOP REPORTING

Students at Villiers High School in Southall, Middlesex worked in teams of four to create a series of video reports, taking on the roles of cameraman, sound operator, reporter and director.

Kerris, 13, chose to report on the Heathrow plane crash. She said: "We chose this as the lead story because it was recent and it would interest a lot of people.

"I wrote out the facts in my own words, loaded them into a prompter and read them from a screen. It was easy to read because they were my own words."

Amrik, 13, gathered vox pops, asking staff and students how they would have felt had they been on board.

BBC mentor Keith Morris, who was working with the students, had been on another flight which was delayed by the incident.

Amrik said: "It brought the news home to us because we actually know him, and he could tell us how he had been affected, in person."

In his role as director, Amrik supervised the lighting in the studio and chose the backgrounds.

He said: "If I spotted something and sat back, the clip would be affected. I have to say something if it's not right."

Sound operator, Amrit, 13, said: "I had to make sure there wasn't much interference, such as the wind and background noise."

Conscious of the sensitive nature of news-reporting, she added: "You have to show concern to family and friends in the way you write about people who have died."

The 14 Year 8 pupils were supported by eight Year 9 students, who took part in School Report last year.

Education project manger, Karine Waldron, said: "They remembered the buzz, the excitement and the pressure of meeting a deadline. They could share this experience with the Year 8s as well as helping them with the technology."

She added: "The practice News Day helped develop team work, listening, leadership and communication skills, especially in terms of respecting each others' feelings.

1216 :: VIDEO JOURNALISTS SCOUT FOR STORIES

School Reporters in Manchester are filming on location and in the classroom to create their own video reports.

Students from St Matthew's Roman Catholic High School Technology College in Moston are reporting from a variety of venues including the City of Manchester Stadium.

A group of Year 8 pupils from another school are using green-screen technology to create virtual backgrounds for their video reports, with the help of staff at North East Manchester City Learning Centre.

Chelsea and Kirsty, 13, wrote scripts based on human interest stories they found in the Manchester Evening News.

Kirsty said: "I read through the article and put it into my own words to make a script that is about 90-seconds long."

Leanne, 13, compiled two entertainment news reports about Coronation Street and Amy Winehouse.

She said: "It's difficult to make sure you're reporting on stories that people will want to know about. We passed on our ideas for stories to the rest of the group and decided together. I chose my two stories because a lot of people watch Coronation Street, and Amy Winehouse is big in the news."

Catherine, 13, is reporting on the disappearance of a five-year-old.

She said: "I have my own views about what happened but I didn't put them in my script, I just stuck to facts, because journalists can't take sides."

She added: "I really enjoyed presenting my piece to camera. You have to calm down and rehearse before you start, and then you're alright."

THUR 17 JAN 1611 :: SCHOOL WEBSITE GOES LIVE

School Reporters from Blairgowrie High School in Perthshire met their 1600 GMT broadcast deadline, publishing their work on the school website.

As well as text-based articles, students produced a video interview of their deputy head teacher discussing the school's recent role in the Scottish government's School of Ambition programme.

1548 :: DECLINE OF GEOGRAPHY IN SCHOOL INVESTIGATED

School Reporters from Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent
To make more students interested in the subject, the lessons need to be fun and captivating
Jessica, 13, Katie, 12, Gabriella, 12 and Fiona, 12
After reading about Ofsted's report, which said Geography was the worst-taught subject, students at Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent decided to do their own research.

School Reporters interviewed staff and students, to conclude: "Even if Geography is struggling everywhere else, it is still thriving at Hillview."

Visit the school website to read the report in full and other articles on:

  • Students taking their options a year early
  • Admissions policy for pupils
  • The school's Stars In Their Eyes competition

1503 :: SCHOOL OF AMBITION AWARD EXPLAINED

Six School Reporters from Blairgowrie High School in Perthshire interviewed their deputy head teacher about the school's involvement in the Scottish government's School of Ambition programme.

Having filmed the interview on 14 January, they are currently editing it before broadcasting it on a dedicated page on the school website, which is scheduled to go live at 1600 GMT.

Fiona, 12, said: "We discovered that one of the English rooms will be turned into a kitchen where pupils can train to be chefs."

Hannah, 12, said: "You have to be quite confident about talking to people and not go red or say ah or um. I practiced quite a lot before the interview which helped it to go well."

She added: "It's important to listen and not to ask questions that have already been answered. Some of the best answers came from asking questions we hadn't written down, which followed on from our prepared questions."

Students at the school are also reporting on a French and German film-script competition.

1453 :: INTEREST IS THE KEY TO A GOOD NEWS STORY

School Reporters from Lancashire have been working with a BBC editor to identify what makes a story newsworthy.

Thirty-five students from Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley and Marsden Heights in Nelson are working with Michelle Mayman from the Politics Show in Manchester at Towneley Park City Learning Centre (CLC) in Burnley.

Michelle said: "The students have been working on their headlines and asking themselves: 'What is the story?'

"We've looked at the difference between national and local stories and realised that there are some great stories on our doorstep.

"The real eye opener for the students has been understanding that a story which affects a lot of people will interest a lot of people."

Leah, 13, wrote a script explaining how some of the light-up figures that form part of the famous Blackpool Illuminations are to go on sale.

She said: "It's hard to find a story that's really interesting, but this one will appeal to people in the local area because the lights are something they will know about already and they will want to hear more."

Hannah, 14, spent half-an-hour writing her 35-second script about a theory that insects may have wiped out the dinosaurs, having researched the topic on the CBBC Newsround website.

Preparing to present her script, she said: "You've got to keep your chin up, speak properly, face the camera and look at the words."

Stories will appear on Towneley Park CLC's website as they are published.

1312 :: BAFTA NOMINATIONS, THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION

Climate change, BAFTA awards, fund-raising and school sport are some of the news issues being tackled by school Reporters from Lenzie Academy, in East Dunbartonshire.

Twenty 13 and 14-year-olds are writing reports related to their Modern Studies work for the school website. A further eighty students studying the subject in the S3 year group will have the chance to take part in School Report.

Stuart, 14, is reporting on the romantic drama Atonement which has received 14 nominations at this year's Bafta film awards.

He said: "Our report is going to come very much from the Scottish point of view, looking at James McAvoy's nomination for best actor. It's going to contain facts as well as our opinions about the movie and who we think deserves to win."

Stephen, 14, and three of his friends shaved their heads to raise 850 for a Leukaemia charity. His report records their experience.

He said: "It was a little bit scary, not knowing what I would look like, but I went through with it. My head was freezing!"

He added: "The beginning of our report explains what we did, the middle is about how we felt and the end relates how we coped without hair and how much money we raised."

Iain, 14, is attempting to contact a press officer at the Met Office in order to find out more about climatic temperature changes over the past 40 years.

He said: "It seems to me that there has been a rise in the frequency of severe weather. This year and last, there was a lot of flooding in southern England."

Lauren, 14, is working on a report about sporting activities which bring schools in East and west Dunbartonshire together.

She said: "I was involved in an inter-school dance festival last year. It was a really good way of getting to know people from other schools and meeting up with people you haven't seen since primary school."

FRI 18 JAN :: CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS TOP BULLETIN

Villiers High School in Southall, Middlesex are running their practice News Day on Friday 18 January.

Working to a 1500 GMT deadline, students will lead with a report about the school's centenary celebrations.

1027 :: VIDEO JOURNALISTS INTERVIEW HONDA CHIEF

A School Report cameraman and correspondent are on location at the Honda factory in Swindon.

Shannon and Tom, both 12, from Swindon Academy in Wiltshire, have joined Year 11 students who are visiting the plant to find out more about the world of work.

They plan to ask the head of communications about his role and what it is like to work for an international company.

1005 :: IMMIGRATION, EXAMS AND SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

Year 7 and 8 School Reporters at Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent are researching news websites and deciding which stories to cover.

Molly, 12, and her group suggested illegal immigration. She said: "People breaking into the UK is quite a big story at the moment. I'd like to interview people to find out how they think it should be dealt with."

Her team are also considering reporting on students who take their SATS exams a year early, and the price of the school prom.

Jessica, 13, from Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent
Jessica is planing to interview the head of Geography about field trips
Commenting on the issue, Jessica, 13, said: "I think it's quite good as it gives us longer to do GCSE subjects and we don't have to rush our course work. We're going to ask other students what they think."

Jessica's group proposed to look at school admission policies and the decline of Geography, having researched articles on the BBC News website:

Jessica said: "We plan to interview our head and deputy head teacher to find out about our school admission policy, and ask the head of Geography how many field trips students go on and how to make the lessons more interesting."

Hannah, 11, and her group are planning to preview the school's Stars in Their Eyes competition which takes place on the same evening as the Valentine's Prom.

Kayleigh, 12, from Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent
"Tonight Matthew, Kayleigh will be Gabrielle from High School Musical"
Kayleigh, 12, who is performing, as Gabrielle from High School Musical, said: "It's a good opportunity for people to express themselves through singing and imitating their role models. I think it's inconvenient that the two events are on the same night, as many students will miss out."

Students may also interview the school's career officer to find out how many sixth formers applied to university this year and whether the financial burden of higher education is affecting the number of pupils who apply.

TUES 15 JAN :: RADIO REPORTERS COVER FLOODING

Students from Dryden School in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
Dryden School Reporters have reviewed the school pantomime
Dryden School in Tyne and Wear ran their News Day two days early at Gateshead City Learning Centre (CLC) assisted by Sarah Walton from Radio Newcastle.

Students from the special needs school took inspiration from the CBBC Newsround website, creating radio reports about flooding in the UK.

Sophie, 13 said: "I enjoyed making my report on a laptop."

She and seven other Year 8 and 9 students researched the topic before recording and editing their news packages to meet a 1430 GMT deadline.

Mike Carter from Gateshead CLC said: "It's important for the students to be able to use technology they would not necessarily have. For example, the students have been using digital cameras to take pictures which will be published on the weblog. It's smiling faces all round."

Teacher Emma Pickering said: "School Report has definitely benefited the students. Having a challenge - to make the news - is a real motivating factor, enabling them to put the skills they have learned to use."

She added: "I was easily able to adapt materials from the School Report website to make them accessible; by using software which substitutes words for symbols, for example, to support students in their reading."

The pupils' flooding reports and a weblog of Tuesday's practice News Day will be added to the CLC website, which already contains several news stories and bulletins.


Join in the final practice News Day

Thursday 7 February, is an opportunity for all participating schools to put their skills to the test during a dress rehearsal for the News Day on 13 March.

During the practice News Day, as on 13 March, a member of the School Report team will ring participating schools to ask staff and students questions about the news-making activities taking place.

This information will be published on the School Report website as running account, enabling students to celebrate their own work and keep abreast of activities taking place in schools across the UK.

Schools might like to give one student the role of BBC correspondent for the day. Their job would be to:

  • Answer questions from a BBC journalist on the phone
  • Take photographs of the practice News Day
  • E-mail them to schoolreportpics@bbc.co.uk with a password which BBC staff will give you

In addition to providing information for the School Report website, they might also like to produce an account of the News Day for the school website.

Having practiced this role on 7 February, the BBC correspondent would be confident about doing the same on 13 March.

February 7 is also a time to practice meeting the two deadlines:

  • 1400 GMT - students complete their news reports
  • 1600 - reports are published on the school website (or that of an educational body)

Please send Schools Producer Ros Smith the web address of your dedicated news page, to which the BBC aim to link, creating a UK-wide audience for students' work.

Please remember to return the head teacher agreement and consent forms to Ros Smith, by fax or post, before taking part in the practice News Day.

Here is some further guidance:

13 DEC :: TEACHERS' FEEDBACK

The following comments are from teachers who took part in the December practice News Day.

Dawn Hughes from Desborough School in Berkshire said: "It was the most rewarding day I have experienced in my 16 years of teaching. All the students were a pleasure to be with, listened and contributed fully, something that every teacher strives for."

She added: "The level of excitement and focus increased when the students witnessed their first piece go live on the School Report site.

"Although there was a lot of work involved, today has been absolutely brilliant. I'm going to ask the head if we can arrange another practice News Day."

Sheila Sloan from Caedmon School in North Yorkshire said: "It was a very valuable experience as the students are going to decide themselves how to move forward."

Lisa McKerley from Hillhead High School in Glasgow said: "The students loved it. We saw the article with their comments about the practice News Day and they were over the moon! It was so good to see their photos there too."

Karen Killeen from Stoke High School said: "The students were really impressed with what they had achieved and the practice News Day went really, really well."

Anne Walker from Rainham School for Girls in Kent said: "It was a really exciting day and a really steep learning curve for some Year 7s who learned how to create a web page. There was a lot of enthusiasm."





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