Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 9 May 2011 10:47 UK

Schools become news gathering hubs

Graphic of six schools involved in the School Report newsgathering hub project
The Channel Hop Hub was one of seven groups of schools involved in the newsgathering project on News Day 2011

Students shared their news story ideas with pupils in other parts of the UK, during a project which saw schools mirroring the BBC's own news gathering operations.

To mark five years of BBC News School Report, an extra dimension was added for News Day 2011, and, as well as publishing their finished reports on their school websites, seven groups of schools - or hubs - reported on the news-making process throughout the day.

Some schools take on the role of field reporters while others become news gatherers, and, like at the BBC, the "Field Reporter" schools sent short updates, by phone and email, about the news-making progress at their schools, to their dedicated "Gatherer" school who publishes them to a running commentary page on their school websites.

The seven pages produced were akin to the LiveEvents pages on the BBC News site, giving an immediacy to schools' News Days as well as a hint of competition between the schools in each hub.

Spot the difference

Watching their own LiveEvents pages develop throughout the day and making contact with other schools, especially on the phone, was part of the enjoyment for students.

Students and mentor from Marden High School
Students at Marden High School on practice day

They commented on the differences in diversity, technology and uniform. Students from Sir James' Smith's School in Camelford thought another school was "posh because they wore blazers" while those from St John Wall Catholic School in Birmingham were interested to discover that another school in their hub was predominantly white in comparison to their own diverse ethnicity.

St John Wall pinned photos from the other schools' websites on a board. "This gave the students a focus and gave them instant results because they knew who they were talking to and what their school was like," said teacher Sharon McLoughlin.

It's good to talk

Students valued the peer to peer contact. Marden High School in North Shields ran the News Matters to Marden hub and relished the personal contact. Pupils tuned in to different accents on the phone and laughed with each other when they misinterpreted or didn't understand what was said.

Teacher Joan Bloomfield said: "It's like an adventure talking to someone in Manchester. For some of them it's a long way away."

Students ringing Plumstead Manor High School's PlumLive hub insisted on speaking to a peer and not to the teacher.

Students at St John Wall's Central Heartbeat hub were also persistent in contacting their schools. Lead teacher Sharon McLoughlin felt it gave them "control and responsibility which they enjoyed".

Looking to the future

I felt like I suddenly sussed what it was about and then I felt excited. I felt the page gave School Report a 24-hour buzz.
Chris Eames, Sir James Smith's School, Camelford

Following the News Day contact, several schools would like to develop their relationships with each other. Some because they have the same specialism and others to improve research and communication skills through an exchange of information.

Schools are looking forward to taking part again in the future and plan to improve on what they produced during News Day. Sir James Smith's School are keen to be a reporting school, now they know what they are expected to do, and say that they will be "ringing all the time"!

Chris Eames summed up the day from a teacher's perspective: "I felt like I suddenly sussed what it was about and then I felt excited. I felt the page gave School Report a 24-hour buzz," he said.


Schools that took part this year include:

The Orbital Hub - Central and North London Hub

Loreto College, St Albans

Camden School for Girls, Camden

Paddington Academy, Westminster, London

St Andrew's School, Bedford

The St Marylebone CE School, Westminster, London

Brentside Buzz Hub - West London and the West

Brentside High School, Ealing, London

Acton High School, Ealing, London

Reading School, Reading

PlumLive Hub - South East London, Kent and Surrey

Plumstead Manor School, Greenwich

Guildford County School, Guildford

Our Lady's Convent High School, Hackney

St Catherine's Catholic School for Girls, Bexley

Channel Hop Hub - The South and South West

Sir James Smith's Community School, Camelford

Coombeshead College, Newton Abbot

Dartmouth Academy, Dartmouth

La Mare de Carteret High School, Guernsey

Le Rocquier School, Jersey

Les Beaucamps School, Guernsey

Central Heartbeat Hub - Midlands and East Anglia

St John Wall Catholic School, Birmingham

Chantry High School and Sixth Form Centre, Ipswich

Longsands College, St Neots

Northgate High School, Dereham, Norfolk

North Walsham High School, Norfolk

Shepshed High School, Leicestershire

The Bemrose Community School, Derby

News Matters to Marden Hub - The North West and North East

Marden High School, North Shields

Ryburn Valley High School, Sowerby Bridge

Trinity Church of England High School, Manchester

Wales High School, Sheffield

William Howard School, Brampton, Cumbria

Scotland and Northern Ireland Hub

Shawlands Academy, Glasgow

St Cecilia's College, Derry

looking from her and
09 May 11 |  School Report
Schools to become news gatherers
16 Mar 11 |  School Report


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