Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Friday, 14 October 2011 16:12 UK

These resources are designed to help BBC mentors get the most out of working on the School Report project

Sign up as a School Report mentor

BBC News School Report is into its seventh year of making the news with young people - and we need BBC mentors to help bring the project to life in schools all around the UK.

School Report is the BBC's journalism project for 11-16-year-olds, engaging thousands of young people around the UK in making the news for a real audience.

We know that school really value the expertise and real-life skills of BBC staff - not to mention any celebrity anecdotes you might have up your sleeve!

So if you're interested in helping young journalists report the news, this page should answer many of your questions about how to get involved and what you can expect.

WHAT is a mentor and what do they do?

A School Report mentor is someone that can help by providing support and encouragement for teachers as well as working with students to help them to understand the project and discuss ways to make their News Day a big success.

Mentors are role models and ambassadors for the BBC and they will work with both teachers and 11-16 year olds as part of School Report. The role involves helping a teacher and their students prepare to take part in School Report News Day on 21 March 2013.

What mentors actually do varies with hugely, depending on the skills of the person involved, the age of the students and the type of school. Here are some ideas of what being a mentor could involve:

Top tips for School Report mentors

  • visiting the school on a regular basis to help deliver lessons to the pupils and work with them on their news stories
  • going to a school for a whole day and assisting with a practice news day - or maybe working with a small group of children and accompanying teacher to record an interview
  • leading an assembly, chatting to staff in the staffroom or holding a meeting with the lead teacher to develop ideas and offer practical tips.
  • offering phone or email help and advice to teachers

In many schools, students follow a series of lesson plans on the School Report website, while we also provide teachers with an array of activities, masterclass videos and quizzes through our resources.

Some mentors get involved in their delivery, some don't. Teachers and mentors agree how the training and delivery of the project will work.

On News Day, which takes place on 21 March 2013, mentors help the lead teacher to bring the project together, working to a 1400 GMT deadline!

WHO can be a mentor?

BBC staff (from any division and any grade) can be mentors.

Staff can mentor by phone, email or in person and we can help to find something for you whether you have a number of days to offer or you have a limited amount of time.

This would also be an ideal opportunity for anyone looking to build or develop their journalism skills.

WHY should I become a mentor?

Mentoring and working with teachers and students offers opportunities and experiences not always available in the BBC workplace.

Help prepare for School Report News Day
Support the lead teacher
Help to identify stories
Give an insight into the BBC

School Report mentors can give as much, or as little time, as work and other commitments allow. It can provide many personal and professional development opportunities, many elements of which can be included in appraisals.

Organisational, leadership, planning and technical skills are some that could be included.

It is an excellent way for building contacts in a local community, increases a great understanding of a school-age audience and can provide that "feel good factor" at the end of the day after working with a room full of enthusiastic students!

WHEN do I start?

Anytime! Mentors are recruited throughout the year and work on ad hoc projects as you can see here with Newsbeat's Chi Chi Izundu helping pupils at Langdon School in east London.

The main mentoring scheme is between September 2012 and March 2013 when we will be recruiting, training and matching mentors with schools they want to work with.

WHERE can I mentor?

Mentors are matched to schools all over the UK on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mentors are only allocated to schools that have signed up to take part in School Report. But if a mentor wants to approach a particular school that is not yet taking part, we have some suggested links and a template letter that can be sent to schools encouraging them to sign up.

HOW do I sign up to be a mentor?

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or finding out more about the role, please send an email to Katie Hile ( or use the School Report Mentors email address on the BBC's internal address list. Katie will then send you a short form to fill out and return by email.

After this initial step, you will also need to:

1. Get permission from your manager for some time off. Any expenses that you incur are picked up by your department. Be sure your manager understands this.

School Reporters filming
A mentor helps pupils gather film footage on the high street

2. Complete an online training module about child protection

3. Book and attend a briefing session which will explain about the School Report project, child protection issues and offer suggestions about how you can help in school

4. Get yourself matched to a school (or even schools) by talking to our mentor co-ordinator

Once you've been matched to a school, you can contact the lead teacher and discuss how you can help them run the project in the school.

When you contact the school, find out what the lead teacher has planned, how much they understand the project and be clear about what skills you can offer. Now is a good time to agree the time commitment you can give.

How much time do I need to give?

Schools don't need a mentor to run the project and not all will have one. Having a mentor adds an extra dimension.

Mentors can therefore give as much or as little time as their BBC work allows. Not every mentor can spend the maximum of three days in a school.

For some, BBC operational commitments mean that a mentor can only offer the lead teacher support on the end of a phone or on email, but this is fine - any BBC contact and advice in a school is always welcome.

This diary from the pupils, teachers and BBC mentor Maddy Savage shows what can be achieved over the phone!

I haven't worked with children before, what do I need to do?

Working with children is for many, the best part of School Report.

We don't require mentors to be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) any more, but we do ask that everyone completes a personal disclosure form.

We also provide training in child protection issues. Staff need to complete an online training module.

I don't have a news background - can I mentor on a news project?

We can offer basic news training for non-news people. But don't feel afraid of doing news.

You will have watched, listened and read lots yourself and we can provide help and advice.

We provide schools with information about the legal issues and they are asked to steer clear of court reporting and anything that may be defamatory.

And be sure to check out our "new to news" briefing page to read more about news and how it's made.

Diary of a digital mentor
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