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BBC News Interactive School ReportBBC News Interactive School Report
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 09:47 GMT
School Report a perfect BBC fit
By Huw Edwards
BBC News

Huw Edwards and student Photo: Colin Babb
Huw Edwards visits a school in Camberwell for a project update

Schools across the country are counting down to going on air as BBC News School Report returns, bigger and better than ever before.

This year over 10,000 students, aged 11-14, from more than 280 schools around the UK are taking part, broadcasting their stories and bulletins on BBC TV, radio and online.

One of the big challenges for any news presenter today is how to attract younger viewers. For me, School Report fits perfectly with what I think we, the BBC, should be doing.

Feedback

As the big day grew near, I visited Charles Edward Brookes School in Camberwell, South London, to find out how School Reporters were preparing.

It's been more than a quarter of a century since I was in the classroom as a French teacher, and it's always a bit of a shock being back, but I love being in this kind of environment.

It's always good to get first hand feedback from an audience of this age because they'll tell you very directly what they like and what they don't like.

I spent the morning with Year 8 School Reporters, gathering and discussing interesting news stories from newspapers and the internet.

It's always good to get first hand feedback from an audience of this age because they'll tell you very directly what they like and what they don't like
Huw Edwards

I was pleased to see that each group of students had found a good mix of stories. The trick in any news programme is to have a variety of stories which appeal to different bits of the audience, and give it wide appeal.

The stories might be great, but all that hard work will lose its impact if the language isn't crystal clear and direct. It shouldn't leave any room for doubt at all.

Different strengths

We discussed how students divide up duties and choose the right people for the right roles, as different people have different strengths.

I asked which of them fancied having control over the content of the report, and explained the role of an editor, the person with real power, who makes all the big decisions but is never seen on screen.

Huw and students photo: Colin Babb
Huw explains the various newsroom roles to be filled, including editor

We also considered who is best suited to be on camera presenting a news bulletin, as they'll need to be someone who wants to communicate.

Later on, the tables were turned and I found myself in the hot seat being grilled by two students who asked me how I keep a straight face in emotional situations, and what career advice I would give to young reporters.

School Report is fun, it gives students the chance to do something that maybe they've never done before, and the main message I wanted to leave the Charles Edward Brookes students was - enjoy it!

The great thing about this year's School Report is that there's a real sense of growth and energy.

When I mention it to teachers, it's clear that there's a great deal of recognition that School Report is a very worthwhile project.

It gives people a real sense of what the BBC, and journalism, is about.

Last year 120 schools took part and this year that figure has more than doubled, with over 300 schools and City Learning Centres involved.

Hopefully by this time next year we'll be even bigger.





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