The emphasis on discussion as the main learning strategy throughout the project also had a noticeable effect on the quality of written outcomes
Jan English, literacy consultant
Research carried out by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) indicates that participation in School Report can have a significant impact on literacy.
Jan English, a literacy consultant, was commissioned by the SSAT to work with five schools taking part in School Report during 2007/8 to evaluate the impact that participation in the project had on the literacy levels of the students involved.
The purpose was to ascertain the impact on both the writing and oral skills of the students and to recommend ways to maximise benefits in the future.
The evidence collected indicates that participation in School Report can have a significant impact on literacy.
Video footage of students talking together to solve problems, before and after the project, demonstrates that students experienced a steep learning curve with regard to effective group collaboration and discussion.
The emphasis on discussion as the main learning strategy throughout the project also had a noticeable effect on the quality of written outcomes.
In particular, boys and students with English as an additional language (EAL) benefited from the opportunity to discuss ideas and write succinctly and logically, as opposed to expressively.
Literacy tool kit
Ms English devised some additional resources, to be used in conjunction with the six School Report lesson plans, by teachers wishing to use the BBC News project to boost literacy levels.
They include "talk cards" which encourage students to reason and build on each others ideas, and "talk tally" worksheets which help students assess the discussion skills of their peers. They can be downloaded from the SSAT website.
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Since School Report began in 2006, the BBC project team has worked closely with a number of educational bodies including the SSAT.
In 2007-2008 it was agreed that one useful focus of the SSAT work would be to evaluate the impact on literacy and to suggest simple techniques which schools participating in School Report could use to raise the literacy levels of their students.
More about SSAT
The SSAT, which is a membership body for Specialist Schools and Academies in England, reports that more than 95% of secondary schools in England are affiliated to the organisation.