Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Thursday, 17 February 2011

February practice News Day as it happened

Pupils all over the UK polished their skills on the final practice News Day before School Report's main day in March. Find out how they got on when they turned their classrooms into newsrooms.

AS IT HAPPENED (all times GMT)
School Reporters at Hounsdown Secondary School at Testwood Water Supply in Southampton
'Why add flouride to our water?' ask Hounsdown reporters
Friday: Six School Reporters from Hounsdown Secondary School visited Testwood Water Supply in Southampton to find out about the process of adding fluoride to tap water. After touring the site, they interviewed water quality manager Nigel Smethan about Southern Water's views on fluoridation. The footage will be used in the school's report on fluoridation which will be broadcast on News Day.

Friday: At Oxted School in Surrey over 70 students from Years 11 and 12 are "ruling the school", replacing members of staff for the day. On Friday 18 February, pupils were taking lessons, working in the canteen, managing the site, running House assemblies and working with the Head and Deputy Headteachers to run the school. School Reporters will be filming the event and the full report will be available on the school's website and also the BBC website on 24 March.


1731: Jayne Euvrard from St Benedict's School in London said: "It was great to have a visit from School Report producer Angela and the pupils were beside themselves to get a mention on the website! They had a marvellous day."

1729: Teacher from Saint Aidan's Technology College in Lancashire, Kate Nisbet, said: "Well, what a day! Our School Reporters have worked really hard today and had lots of fun."

1715: Right - I think that's a wrap! Well done to all the School Reporters who produced such amazing work today. It's been great hearing what you've all been up to.

See you all again on News Day on 24 March!

1712: Sir James Smith's Community School in Camelford had a wonderful day with their Year 8 pupils. Teacher Anne Littlejohn said: "Students enjoyed the hands-on experience of using the technology, there were a few teething problems, but they really enjoyed it!"

The School Reporters spent the day researching stories which included:

- the credit crunch and the Budget. The pupils interviewed their careers advisor and the school bursar on the recent cuts and the effects they could have on the pupils.

- they also had responses back from Age UK to emails they had sent to the organisation. The diligent reporters went on to research the possible closure of their local leisure centre. They looked at how this could impact on those wanting to study PE at university.

- the Royal Wedding. The Year 8 pupils interviewed staff about their views on the royal wedding alongside those who could remember the 1981 celebrations for Prince Charles and Diana. They also went on to look at the costs and the impact on small businesses who would have to pay staff on the official bank holiday.

- finally the School Reporters looked at learning about other people's cultures through international school links. What an amazing day!

Anne added: "I was amazed by the organisation and the ability of the group to work in a team. They were excellent at meeting their deadline!"

Top chef Nigel Smith speaks to the School Report team
Nigel Smith answers questions from the School Reporters
1631: Under the tutelage of top chef Nigel Smith, students at a school in Lancashire, cooked and served a three-course dinner to more than 100 guests.

Year 11 Hospitality and Catering students from Saint Aidan's Technology College in Poulton Le Fylde, spent 15 February at The Villa restaurant in Preston, where they also got some tips of the trade from winner of MasterChef The Professionals 2010, Claire Lara.

Among the guests was presenter of BBC North West Tonight, Ranvir Singh. Young reporters from the school went behind the scenes and you can read their report here.

1622: Seven pupils from The Cotswold School Academy have been taking part in the after-school activities, running a practice newsroom and building up to a live TV broadcast.

They're working on stories about the Royal Wedding, the Six Nations rugby and a new mini iPhone.

The 11-year-old Charlotte is editor for the day. She said: "Everyone is working really hard and has put loads of effort into the day."

1616: Over at The Coleshill School in Birmingham, teacher Stephanie Badham says her team of roving reporters have produced some fantastic work today!

They have not only produced written reports but also completed a studio report and a video report, covering areas like polar bears, Justin Bieber and the boat that tragically overturned in Vietnam. Why not have a look at their website to see their reports?

1558: Students at Camden School for Girls in London have been buying heart-shaped toast to raise money for Comic Relief.

It's all part of a Valentines-themed fundraising week, which the School Reporters are covering.

Camerawoman and picture editor, Cecilia, 12, said: "There is a different theme each day. On Monday the theme was 'love one another' - you could pay 20p to post a message on a heart-shaped board to say thank you or to tell your best friend that you like them. On Tuesday, the theme was 'love yourself' and you could get your nails done."

Other stories which the TV newsroom covered included the death of a child who traversed a level crossing wearing an iPod.

Students also covered last night's film premier with Justin Bieber. Donita, 13, had the idea to interview two fans and two critics. She explained: "You have to have two opinions in a news story, if you interview only people who like Justin Bieber, it's not really fair."

She added: "The day has been really fun and it helped us gain confidence. Seeing the different roles, such as what a presenter has to do, was a really great opportunity."

Huw Edwards
Huw Edwards talks to the pupils at The Great Coat Hospital School
1540: A team of budding royal reporters at The Grey Coat Hospital School in London have had a reporting masterclass from BBC News presenter Huw Edwards earlier today.

Huw will be commentating on the forthcoming Royal Wedding and the students were able to interview him about his preparations for this.

Hannah, 14 explained how he told them about his experiences of commentating on big live events, such as the Pope's recent visit to the UK and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. She said: "I couldn't believe how much hard work it is!"

The girls were all really surprised to hear about the amount of preparation and research presenters like Huw do before going on-air. Ryva said she was really interested to hear that "it is not just reading off autocue". Esme added: "It is like they have to do homework beforehand!"

Well done to Clemmie, Suzi, Ryva, Amy, Susannah, Elena, Esme, Hannah and Megan for putting Huw on the hotseat!

1538: Practice news day has been a great opportunity for Marden High School in Tyne and Wear to test out their new website and the live commentary page. The students have been taking turns to write their news update and post it to the site. They're a bit behind schedule with finishing the news stories but are recording the last bits and pieces now.

A Diss High School pupil presents his report
A School Reporter from Diss High School presents his report
1520: Diss High School have made TV and radio output today. Ethan, 14, has been out filming for their TV news, covering stories about the closure of local libraries, claims that Coca-Cola could cause cancer and Arsenal beating Barcelona.

Frankie, 13, has enjoyed recording interviews for the radio programme which featured Justin Bieber's win at the Brit Awards and an interview with an older student at the school who recently won a Global Fellowship award.

This is the third year the school has part and their teacher says it's the best content to be produced so far!

1517: Watford Grammar School for Girls have a team of 24 School Reporters working incredibly hard on a huge range of stories.

They are covering diverse topics including a school charity event raising money for for the refurbishment of the English block, the 'Gym & Dance' event, Arsenal's win over Barcelona last night, the solar flare, smuggled Indian star tortoises, a baby gorilla at London Zoo taking his first steps, the school 'Green Week' events including the 'Big Swap', a sponsored silence, the release of the secret Coca Cola recipe, recycling systems and ancient humans using skull cups!

One student said: "It was really fun to work with other people and find out what is happening in the world." Another added: "I want to be a journalist now!"

They are just finishing their edits now and are confident of hitting their 1600 deadline. Good work team!

Eggar's School editor Tom
Eggar's School editor Tom works on the new stories his team are covering
1509: It's all go at Eggar's School in Hampshire, where the School Report team have been in place since November as they have gradually learned the tricks of the trade.

They've had an editorial team, a broadcasting team and a technical team all working away on stories including the protests in the Middle East.

Pupils have also interviewed a top astronomer who recently visited the school and one of the choreographers from Starlight Express!

"We're absolutely loving it - even if it is organised chaos!" said assistant headteacher Kevin Peebles.

1504: Rutlish School in London have created a mini-newsroom for their practice News Day.

The 13 students taking part have written articles and filmed some video pieces and are now busy editing them together for their news bulletin.

Milan, 13, has been working on a story about a basketball competition taking place at the school. He has really enjoyed working together with everyone else to make sure the stories get made on time.

Isaac, 13, has enjoyed interviewing some Beat Bullying mentors as well as being interviewed himself. Cyber bullying is a big story as the issue is very important to the school.

School Reporters at Elizabeth Garratt Anderson Language College
The girls at Elizabeth Garratt Anderson Language College pose for the cameras
1500: The pupils at Elizabeth Garratt Anderson Language College certainly made an impression on BBC producer Belinda, who went in to help them today.

"The girls were very enthusiastic and had good arguments for all the stories they came up with. I really enjoyed working with them because they were so enthusiastic," said Belinda.

1440: Brentside High School in Hanwell are old hands at practice News Days, and they are taking part again today.

Their group of Year 8s are recording bulletins and streaming the results on the school website, with the reporters looking at sexism in sport, the Egyptian and Bahrain riots, the forthcoming Red Nose Day and School Sports Day and the London Olympics.

School Reporters at Avon Valley College
Students met the deadline at Avon Valley
1421: The 11 School Reporters at Avon Valley College in Wiltshire have worked incredibly hard to reach their 13.00 deadline! Stories covered include their new leisure centre and canteen and the problem of litter. Harry, 13, said: "Today has been brilliant and prepares us for the real thing!"

1416: The six School Reporters at Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath, Kent, are holding an editorial meeting to plan their report for News Day.

The team have named themselves 'BBCGGE' which stands for Bobbie, Britney, Chloe, Gloria, Georgia and Emily! They are planning a report on Comic Relief and what their school and the local community are doing to raise money.

Georgia, 11, said that some shops have brought out special ranges for Comic Relief, and some schools are holding cake sales. At Townley Grammar an exciting "secret event" is being planned and as soon as it is finalised the Reporters are going to be the first to know!

Bobbie, 12, said that their research has shown that the local Edward Alterton theatre is also planning to raise money through a play and they are going to bid for an interview with its stars.

The girls' ambitious plans also include asking for interviews with The Wanted, Olly Murs, Craig David, Kara Tointon and Dermot O'Leary! Finally they have used the meeting to check out the competition from other participating schools. Bobbie said: "We will be the best!" Good luck to BBCGGE!!

BBC mentor Mark Tulip talks to the Marden High pupils
BBC mentor Mark Tulip talks to the Marden High pupils
1410: Marden High School in North Shields are practising their news-gathering skills by doing a live commentary on their web page. Keep visiting to find out what happens with their stories and whether they hit their deadline!

1406: A parent who has recently returned from Egypt is just about to be interviewed at Taylor High School in Motherwell, where 23 second year students have been recording video and radio interviews.

The pupils have also spoken to International Children's Games Information Officer, Mark Dell, about the "mini Olympics" event for 12 to 15-year-olds in Lanarkshire from 3 to 8 August. After taking them on a tour of his information bus, where they heard about the 1,600 young people from 80 international cities, Mr Dell answered questions about the Ravenscraig venue in particular, including why it had been picked and its facilities.

Mr Dell said: "They asked really pertinent questions and had done some good research. The Games has captured their imagination, with athletes from Nigeria, Australia and exotic places all around the world on their doorstep."

Students also interviewed the local census manger, asking why the national population survey, which takes place on 27 March, is important, what happens to the information and finding out more about its history. The finished reports will be uploaded to their school website.

1342: The 15 School Reporters from Stanchester Community School in Somerset have had a full scale TV Practice Day, compiling and recording a bulletin.

Their big story is editing an interview with local MP David Laws, who famously resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Other stories they've focused on are council cuts, the government climbdown on the sale of the forests and a human skull from the ice age discovered locally.

Leah, 12, said: "I think it's going well and everyone has been working really hard."

Harriet, 12, added: "It's really good. We've been writing up stories and I like choosing a story and writing it in your own words."

1329: The 16 Year 8 School Reporters at JFS in Harrow are full of ideas, with stories about global warming, Olympic swimming and Fair Trade all on the agenda.

There are also plans to interview the sister of one of the School Reporters who is a scriptwriter on E4 show Skins, and to look at women's football as compared to men's football with a visit from Charlton women's footballer Jess Creighton planned for later in the term.

The story of assistant referee Sian Massey, who found herself at the centre of the recent sexism controversy over the comments made by presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray, is being looked into, as well as the census.

School Reporter Daniel is looking into a report on university tuition fees and plans to interview his second cousin, who is an MP!

"It's been really interesting," said Daniel. "I've learned a lot already - and now I realise how much planning has to go into reporting on stories."

1310: The reporting team at Eggar's School in Hampshire is hard at work and plan to publish their reports on the website between 2.00 and 4:00 today.

"The team are all very excited about it and are working their socks off," said teacher Kathy Mitchell. "This has been a great experience for them so far."

The School Reporters at Cams Hill School work on their reports
Cams Hill School students work on their packed bulletin
1302: Cams Hill School in Hampshire have been hard at work all day working on a number of stories, including Cams Hill Community Club receiving the Portsmouth Evening News School of the Year Award 2010 for their work with the elderly people in the area.

They are also reporting on the visit from the author Johnny O'Brien yesterday; a sports report on Jack in Year 9 who went to Bolton to box for his club and won and was awarded his prize by Amir Khan.

Plus the Year 10 girls won the Hampshire Cup in basketball; and finally a story on a local school who are making their students earn points in order to be able to attend the Year 11 prom!

Johnny, 14, said: "I have really enjoyed doing School Report. It makes you feel like a real team of news reporters. It has been an amazing experience!"

Well done team!

1300: Avon Valley School in Wiltshire are hard at work, reporting on their new leisure centre that is being built, the new canteen, a student that has been selected for the England Under-18 football team, the litter problem and the school production.

1252: Dover College are running their practice News Day with 22 students today. Bethany, 13, is enjoying being in charge of organising the bulletin.

The running order includes a business review, sports news and a weather report, as well as the top stories about elderly people having to sell their homes, the new Spirit of Britain ferry arrival in Dover and Justin Bieber. They are now filming all their stories with the help of BBC mentor Jo.

School Reporters Robert and Emma from St Aidan's CE Technology College
Robert and Emma work on their presenting skills
1244: Things are really hotting up in the newsroom at St Aidan's CE Technology College newsroom!

The teams of reporters are currently out and about in school, getting interviews with students and teachers on a variety of subjects, ranging from a sniffer dog who can tell if you are diabetic to the story of a local girl fighting to save her library.

The programme anchors are Emma and Robert. They're had the added bonus of being mentored today by Aqib Ishtiaq, a PGCE student from University of Cumbria with a background in news and media.

Emma and Robert are currently busy writing their script for the autocue and practising in front of the cameras. Good luck guys!

The School Report team at St Benedict's School in Ealing
The School Report team at St Benedict's School in Ealing
1234: The reporters at St Benedict's School have split into four reporting teams, each of which are working on a different story which they are filming and editing today.

Marcus, 13, is involved in editing a report about the effect the difficult economic situation is having on people.

Some of his team have prepared some questions which they are about to put to their headteacher, while he is starting to edit some of the interviews they've already recorded with students.

Maddy, 13, is putting her presenting skills into practice and reporting on the influence celebrities have on the way young people dress.

She has done some reporting before and apparently loves being in front of the camera! Maddy's top presenting tips are to remember to speak slowly and always look directly at the camera.

1227: At Cape Cornwall School the transmission deadline is an hour earlier than it will be on news day itself. Sixteen students from Years 7, 8 and 9 are taking part, and Gabriel from Year 9 said that stories include cutting TV adverts, youth unemployment and the use of a local location, Anthony House, for the filming of Alice in Wonderland.

Louis, 13, was waiting to finish his script once the filming was completed but didn't know the deadline he was working to!

Sequoia, 14, was equally enthusiastic, commenting: "I'm getting to see how people film the news and put it together. It makes you work a lot, finding facts and putting it in your own words."

School Report's Marilyn with the pupils at Cranford Community College
School Report's Marilyn with Cranford's pupils
1220: Cranford Community College have the pleasure of BBC School Report producer Marilyn's company today to help out with their practice News Day.

Here's the update from their project leaders Barbara Lodge & Sharan Saroya: "We are working on several stories, a local robbery in Feltham, Cranford's move to Academy status, local library closures, how parents reward their children for doing well at school (inspired by P Diddy buying his son a Ferrari) and an "On this Day" in history feature with some cricket and football news.

"The day is going really well, we think the expression 'organised chaos' describes it well! Stories are all prepared now and we are doing the final filming before beginning our editing to meet our 1.45pm deadline!"

1215: The story about a Bristol couple who had their wedding in fast food restaurant KFC has captured the imagination of School Reporters in Gordano School in North Somerset.

A large group of Year 7s is taking part this year and going round the school asking pupils and teachers what they think of the story. Jess, a Year 9 pupil, is helping at least 20 Year 7s.

"It's nice to see everyone smiling and having such fun," she says. She and her Year 8 and 9 school friends are helping the younger ones make video reports on two other main stories - the sun releasing huge solar flares and Larry, the Downing Street cat!

Accrington Academy's School Reporters pose for the camera
Accrington Academy's pupils are looking into the Bahrain protests
1207: Accrington Academy in Lancashire have 10 pupils running a mock newsroom all day. They started off with a prospects meeting and decided to write stories on the Bahrain protests, a bravery award for someone in Burnley and a massive solar flare from the sun.

And they're going later to be filming a story later on a proposed eco-classroom which they believe is the first of its kind in the UK.

Mr Haydock, Head of Media, said: "The day is going wonderfully. The students have written excellent stories and we've given them 9 out of 10 for their work so far!"

Morgan, 11, added: "The day is going really well. I've enjoyed searching for news stories to write about."

Robert and William from St Aidan's CE Technology College
School Reporters Robert and William research their stories
1159: At St Aidan's CE Technology College in Lancashire, School Reporters are hard at work researching the news stories of the day using the internet and the local and national newspapers.

Some of the stories they are looking include a boy who was killed when he crossed a level crossing while wearing an iPod, the Labour party considering scrapping A-Levels, the Brit Awards and a sniffer dog for diabetics.

And closer to home, the young journalists are covering a 10-year-old girl's efforts to save Blackpool Library.

The flyer advertising the school's production of The Wizard of Oz
Actors in the production of The Wizard of Oz are among Horbury's interviewees
1148: School Reporters at Horbury School in Wakefield have interviewed some students who are taking part in this year's school production "The Wizard of Oz".

One of our School Reporters is a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer and she's really wanted to use this report to tell her story and raise awareness of the condition.

We are treating today as if it were the day in March and are working to a deadline of 2.00!

The school has set up their own live text feed on their website.

1138: Justin Bieber, stolen Egyptian treasure and solar flares - just three of a wide range of stories covered by a team of 16 intrepid reporters from Waldegrave Girls School in Richmond-upon-Thames.

One pupil was lucky enough to go to the Justin Bieber concert at the O2 Arena in London last night - and the Canadian pop star actually spoke to her! More on what he said later…!

Meanwhile, Waldegrave's School Reporters are interviewing their Head of Science about dramatic solar flares emanating from the sun. And another group is delving into the history department to find out more about Egyptian treasures stolen and returned from a museum during the recent uprising in Cairo.

1125: Sir James Smith's Community College in Camelford have 24 Year 8 students taking part, with nine older students acting as mentors for the day, passing on the skills they've learnt from previous years.

The team have held their editorial meeting and are planning to report on the following stories:

1. the Royal Wedding: how much it will cost, where it will take place, and how people plan to use their extra day off!

2. the effect of budget cuts on older people

3. the effect of airbrushed images on young people's body image

4. threatened closure of the local sports centre

5. the effect of withdrawal of EMA on local students

6. the school's link with a school in Goa

A pupil tries his hand at the school's new broadcast kit
The Isca College pupils get to grips with their new equipment
1102: At Isca College of Media Arts in Exeter, School Reporters had their practice day last week and took the opportunity to try out some of their new broadcast kit. They have also been to record an interview with experts from the Met Office about changing weather patterns.

Teacher Dan Smith said: "Its been lots of work but the school is getting so much from this and the older students are really benefiting and enjoying mentoring and taking charge." And they are now planning two more practice days before News Day so the students can work on their presenting skills

1029: We've just heard from School Reporters Kansi and Nadia, who are both 11, from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College in London.

The 14 pupils in the School Report team will be recording BBC "idents" - brief introductions which can be used on our output News Day - and have also had an editorial meeting to discuss the story ideas they want to pursue.

Their ideas include the issue of underage smoking and drinking and their freedom of choice to make responsible decisions about how they spend their break times!

1020: Another school who looked at internet safety was Horbury School in Wakefield. They concentrated on their student "cybermentors" who are trained to give advice and support to victims of bullying and pupils with behavioural difficulties.

1002: School Report has also been covering the issue of internet safety, specifically the use of social network sites by younger children.

School Reporters from The Knights Templar School in Baldock looked into the story on Internet Safety Day on 8 February, learning that many under 13s are on sites such as Facebook despite the age restrictions meant to be in place.

0950: One of the big themes of this year's project is the first ever School Report Survey, to find out how young people feel about a whole range of subjects and issues.

Thousands of students have been filling in the survey online. But we still want more! So if you haven't already find out how in our Q&A. And we've extended the deadline until Friday 4 March, so there's still plenty of time to get your opinions heard.

0942: School Reporters are already busy brainstorming story ideas for their practice News Day at North West Manchester CLC. Check back later to find out what their top news items are!

0935: While we're talking about sport, we've also had some great content recently to do with football, with Liverpool fan Omari and Chelsea supporter Sukhpeet, both pupils at St John Wall Catholic School, avoiding coming to blows when they debated Fernando Torres' recent £50m move to Stamford Bridge!

0920: As well as the activities in schools that are kicking of around the UK just about now, we can also showcase some of the great work that has been going on already this month in School Report.

If you haven't seen it already, why not check out how Harvey and Charlie from Catmose College got on when they came in to Television Centre to see how the BBC Sport website is run on a busy Saturday.

They even got to write a story about Tottenham star Gareth Bale, writing up the quotes from Spurs boss Harry Redknapp's press conference!

Pupils at Rydens School in Surrey work on interviewing each other
School Reporter Cara, 14, interviews her classmates at Rydens School
0910: Some schools have already been in action, with pupils at Rydens School in Surrey enjoying a visit from School Report producer Tamsyn on Wednesday.

They started brainstorming some story ideas by "debating" subjects reflected in the School Report Survey. Teenage safety was top of their list and so they set to work interviewing each other and recorded some audio on the subject.

0900: Good morning everyone, and welcome to the last of this year's practice News Day before the main News Day itself on 24 March. It's kind of like a mock exam before the real thing!

We can't wait to find out what the schools all over the UK are up to today, so stay tuned to keep up to date with all the stories and issues that are being investigated and reported on.

  • Brentside High School, Ealing, London
  • Holy Family Technology College, London
  • Gordano School, Portishead
  • Isca College of Media Arts, Devon (10 February)
  • Tomlinscote School and Sixth Form College, Surrey
  • St Benedict's School, Ealing, London
  • St Aidan's CE Technology College, Lancashire
  • JCoSS, Barnet, London
  • Eggar's School, Hampshire
  • Dover College, Kent
  • Camden School for Girls, Camden, London
  • Avon Valley College, Wiltshire
  • Musselburgh Grammar School, East Lothian (3 February)
  • Chamberlayne College for the Arts, Southampton, Hampshire (11 February)
  • Sir James Smith's Community School, Camelford
  • Marden High School, Tyne And Wear
  • Accrington Academy, Lancashire
  • Cams Hill School, Hampshire
  • Cape Cornwall School, Penzance
  • Cranford Community College, Hounslow
  • Diss High School, Norfolk
  • Dr Challoner's Grammar School, Amersham
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College, London
  • Horbury School, Wakefield
  • Licensed Victuallers' School, Ascot
  • Rutlish School, London
  • Sir Graham Balfour School, Stafford
  • Stanchester Community School, Somerset
  • Taylor High School, Motherwell
  • The Bramcote Park Business & Enterprise School, Nottingham
  • The Coleshill School, Birmingham
  • Oxted School, Surrey

Cooking up a story in Preston
17 Feb 11 |  School Report
Story ideas for 2011 News Day
15 Feb 11 |  School Report
Join in our practice News Day
14 Dec 11 |  School Report
November's Practice News Day as it happened
18 Nov 10 |  School Report
December's practice News Day as it happened
09 Dec 10 |  School Report
January's Practice News Day as it happened
20 Jan 11 |  School Report


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