The BBC values are at the heart of all the journalism produced across TV, radio and online - and this applies to School Report content just as much as to the lead story on the Today programme.
BBC Editorial Values
Truth and Accuracy
Editorial Integrity and Independence
Harm and Offence
Serving the Public Interest
Concepts such as truth and accuracy, impartiality and fairness are vital cornerstones for BBC journalists and these resources will help pupils understand why these values matter more than ever in the digital era.
One of the reasons we run School Report is to help young people learn about some of the responsibilities that come with broadcasting the news and making content, so the message about the importance of editorial values is critical.
We want School Reporters to think about BBC values when they are compiling their reports. For more background and advice on how some of the key BBC Values translate into the classroom environment,
read our page aimed at teachers.
The reports produced by School Reporters are still subject to the same
as any other BBC content. If in doubt, it is worth checking against these or referring to the School Report team for advice.
TRUTH AND ACCURACY
If we are explaining to young people about the fundamentals of journalism and news, then a good place to start is truth and accuracy.
Pupils' reports need to be truthful and accurate, in just the same way as you would expect any BBC journalism to be.
It's fine to have strong opinions in the reports, but they should be balanced and with a reasonable right to reply for people affected by claims made in the report.
One of the key principles of School Report is that the ideas for the stories covered come from the young people making the reports.
On occasions the pupils may come up with topics they feel strongly about, and want to approach the story in a particular way.
Again, this is usually fine as long as everyone involved understands the difference between fact and opinion and that both sides of the argument or alternative opinions are also covered.
Encourage students to be fair and open-minded when examining the evidence and weighing up the facts.
We advise teachers against covering any ongoing crime stories, because of the complexities of court reporting and the dangers of contempt of court etc.
BBC journalists undergo plenty of legal training before covering court cases, are well-versed in media law and reporting restrictions and have access to legal advice if necessary. Teachers and School Reporters are not in the same position!
Equally, you need to be alive to the danger of defamation especially with the repetition of celebrity gossip, which we also advise against.
Copyright of pictures, music etc is also an issue to be aware of. We provide teachers with simple guidance on these issues in our story on
keeping news safe and legal.
HARM AND OFFENCE
School Report aims to maintain the same standards as other BBC News output when it comes to avoiding causing harm and offence to audiences.
Bear in mind that the audience for School Report content is often very broad - it can involve other school-aged children; teachers; family of all ages; the local community and even further afield. Remember that anyone with an internet connection can access the school's report via the School Report map.
We also need to be mindful of the ages of the children involved: a story which might be fine for a middle-aged male journalist with 20 years' experience could well be totally inappropriate for a class of 11-year-old girls to cover.
Children may want to report on all kinds of stories, such as underage drinking, teen pregnancies or drug abuse which may, for a variety of reasons, prove problematic.
The welfare of the children involved has to be our paramount concern. This means their interests and safety must take priority over any editorial requirements.
While we need to protect their right to be heard and participate, we should also be very aware of their broader welfare and not allow them to put themselves in potentially vulnerable positions.
You can always refer to the school for further guidance if worried about a particular story or topic idea.
Quiz: Editorial Issues
Take this quiz to test your knowledge about the kind of editorial issues your School Reporters might face.
1.) Filming problems
The children want to do a story about Fair Trade chocolate but none of the local shops will let them film.
What should you do?
- Tell the children to drop the story
- Promise the shop they will appear on the BBC
- Rethink your treatment
Your School Reporters tell you that a local newsagent sells cigarettes to children under the age of 18.
They want to cover the story and ask you for advice.
2.) Staying safe
What should you tell them?
- Advise the children not to do the story
- Ask them to confront the newsagent with their allegations
- Suggest the students go undercover to expose the newsagent
A child has done a lot of extra work at home on their radio piece and has added some chart music to liven it up.
He asks you if it's OK for him to use the song.
3.) Using music
What should you say?
- Tell him it's fine as he's using the music for an educational project
- Explain why it could breach copyright and see if he can remove the music
- Tell the teacher to drop the piece from the bulletin
Taste and decency
Radio 1 has commissioned a survey released today which has found that nearly a third of 16 to 24-year-olds lost their virginity below the age of consent.
The children want to report on the story as they think it will be interesting for their audience.
4.) Taste and decency
Can the children cover the story?
- No, it's not appropriate for School Reporters to cover this story at all
- Maybe but only if you refer up to the School Report team
- Yes, there's no reason the kids can't cover the story if they want to.
- Rethink your treatment. Try to find new ways to tell the story. You should never promise exposure on a BBC platform but if it's a good story, look for alternatives. Ask your School Reporters to think creatively about other locations and ways to report the story.
- Advise the children not to do the story. It's illegal to sell tobacco products to anybody under the age of 18 and there are serious consequences for those who do. Stories about crime or legal affairs need to be covered very carefully and we recommend that School Reporters avoid these stories.
- Explain why it could breach copyright and see if they can remove the music. Copyright infringement can carry serious consequences so it's best to avoid doing it in the first place. But remember explain why the music can't be used and praise the student for trying to make the piece as lively as possible. Suggest they make their own music perhaps.
- Maybe but only if you refer up to the School Report team. This is obviously a very sensitive story and it would need to be covered carefully so as to stay within the BBC's editorial guidelines. It's best to contact the School Report team if a story like this comes up. We can offer advice and refer it up to Editorial Policy if needed.
0 - 1 : Have another try
2 - 3 : Good job
4 - 4 : Well done!