Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Tuesday, 9 August 2011 15:26 UK

These lesson plans are structured to last for one hour, and cover all the key elements of journalism

School Reporters setting up their equipment


This lesson, the sixth in a series of six, is designed to give you an idea of the pressures of a News Day and working as a team to meet deadlines.

Remember - the purpose of this lesson is not to create a perfect bulletin but to create the feel of a busy, exhilarating newsroom.

The emphasis should be on meeting deadlines (the Six O'Clock News can't start at 6.15pm because the team wasn't ready!) and accuracy (facts should be checked and re-checked).

We also have a pick and mix section where teachers can pick out resources to create bespoke lessons for their pupils.

And the special Teacher Essentials section includes lots of extra information and advanced resources.

Please note: this lesson is designed to run for an hour, but all timings (except for video durations) are approximate and can be expanded or reduced as required.

  • To understand what is involved in a School Report News Day
  • To work to a deadline
  • To develop team-working skills


Order - Format - Description - Time - Resources

1 - Video - School Report promo video - 2 mins
Resources required: Internet access

2 - Activity - Practice News Day - 50 mins
Resources required: Internet access; newspapers; writing materials

3 - Quiz - Running a News Day - 5 mins
Resources required: Internet access or printable worksheet/answer sheet


BBC News School Report explained

Video: School Report explained (2 mins video)

Watch an overview of what's involved in School Report.

It should give you an idea of what's involved and includes a short section on running a News Day.

Practice News Day (50 mins)

This activity is further broken down into individual sections:

1. Introduction (2 mins)

Pupils should be split into groups - preferably of five - with each group producing a bulletin. Each member of the group is a reporter who needs to produce a report for the bulletin of 20 seconds duration: 3 x news, 1 x sport and 1 x weather report.

If groups need to be bigger, you could also appoint other roles such as editors.

Here are some suggestions for other roles in the newsroom:

But bear in mind that not all of these roles will be necessary in an hour-long lesson.

To save time, here are some suggested audiences:
secondary school-age children
local TV audience
armed forces serving overseas
Newsround audience

2. Editorial meeting

(8 mins)

Each group should quickly read newspapers/news websites to pick stories to cover and select which audience they would like to 'broadcast' to.

For example, you might want to choose secondary school-age children or 20-30-year-old professionals.

Choose which stories to cover and assign reporters to each story.

3. Video: Writing news (5 mins video)

Writing news (duration: 5 mins)

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains the 3 C's of news writing: being Clear, Concise and Correct.

Writing scripts and news stories also means understanding that you need to get straight to the point! There's no point in having an amazing news story but leaving the most important fact to the last sentence!

You can recap the key points from the video with this accompanying worksheet:

4. Writing your reports (15 mins)

Bearing in mind the tips from the video, now write, order and rehearse your reports.

Remember the three C's of news writing: be Clear, Concise and Correct.

Be aware that the BBC rule of thumb for scripts is three words per second, so a 20-second report should be not much more than 60 words. It should also be in the third person (so avoid using "I" or "we" in your reports) and usually in the past tense.

Rehearse as much as possible so you are confident with your script.


5. Safe and legal checklist (5 mins)

Don't forget that it is your responsibility to check that your reports are safe and legal before you broadcast them.

In addition to fair and accurate reporting, it is important for journalists to stay within the law. Libel, contempt of court and copyright breaches are all potentially serious issues and the school is responsible for the material published as part of School Report.

For that reason, ongoing crime stories and celebrity gossip are usually best avoided.

The importance of safeguarding children is key to a project like School Report, which is why we also insist on using only first names of people below 18.


6. On air! (10 mins)

Each group can now read their bulletin in turn.

Time each group's bulletin, or get teams to time each other's. If all five individual reports stick to their 20 seconds, the whole bulletin should last one minute 40 seconds in total.

Students should actively listen and complete this worksheet of questions:

7. Conclusions (5 mins)

As a class, what did you learn from the one-hour exercise?

Bearing in mind that there will be more time on News Day, what could you do differently or better next time? Bear in mind that you should have more time on News Day - but there will still be deadlines to meet.

Suggestions could include: using video, audio, photos, animation or musical compositions; having a countdown clock; looking into local or school stories; setting up interviews; producing some 'vox pops'; set dressing; jingles; and graphics.

Quiz: Running a News Day (5 mins)

Quiz: Running a News Day

Find out if you're ready for News Day with this quiz.

School Reporters standing on stairs

1.) Presenting

At how many words a second does the average broadcaster speak?

Huw Edwards in the studio
  1. 3
  2. 4
  3. 5

2.) Media law

You see a nice photo on the BBC News website. Can you use it in your web story?

A School Reporter uses a computer
  1. Yes, you can use any photo on the BBC News site.
  2. No, you will be breaching copyright law.
  3. Yes, as long as the photo has one of the following credits: AP, PA, AFP or Getty.

3.) Media law

A celebrity is appearing in court. The case is likely to carry on for some days. What do you do?

School Reporter in a radio studio
  1. Report the case, saying who you think is guilty.
  2. Avoid the story and find something else to cover.
  3. Report the case, sticking to what other newspapers and news websites have reported.

4.) Media law

You want to use some music in one of your reports. What should you do?

School Reporter wearing headphones
  1. Download a song from the internet and use it in your report.
  2. Use music that you or your school have created.
  3. Copy some music from a disk and use it in the report.

5.) Media Law

A national newspaper says a famous musician has been caught making racist comments. What are the risks of reporting it?

School Reporters with a stack of newspapers
  1. It might be upsetting for your audience.
  2. The story will only interest people who are fans of the musician.
  3. The musician might sue for defamation.

6.) Media Law

One of your news team want to use this headline: Teenage murderer about to give evidence in court. Which type of law might make this headline problematic?

A statue of Lady Justice, which stands on top of the the Central Criminal Court, London
  1. Copyright
  2. Contempt
  3. Privacy

7.) Checking

Whose job is it to approve all articles, scripts, videos and audio before they are published?

School Reporters filming a report
  1. Researcher
  2. Editor
  3. Camera operator

8.) News values

You get an anonymous tip-off about an interesting story five minutes before you go on air. You don't have any time to research it. What do you do?

School Reporter wearing headphones and reading a script
  1. Ask a member of your team if they can find out if the tip is accurate before the broadcast is over.
  2. Report it as fact.
  3. Try to confirm it yourself.

9.) Presenting

You're reading a bulletin and a clip doesn't play when you expect it to. What do you do?

A School Reporter in a radio studio
  1. Stop and wait for the gallery to sort out the problem.
  2. Apologise and tell the audience you will try to bring them the story later.
  3. Explain what was in the clip.

10.) Staying safe

You are reading the 2pm bulletin and another School Reporter is joining you on set to discuss their story. How do you introduce them?

School Reporters presenting a bulletin in Salford
  1. Use their first name and last name.
  2. Use their first name only.
  3. Use their first name, last name and the name of your school.

11.) Deadline

You did it! Your reports are finished and the News Day went well. It's nearly the end of the school day, what do you do now?

A School Reporter holding a mic
  1. Remind your teacher that your news needs to be on the school website by 4pm.
  2. Relax!
  3. Get your stuff and go home.


  1. It's three words a second, which means presenters speak clearly without rushing through their script. As a presenter, you want people to understand what you're telling them. To help you prepare, take a deep breath before you start, sit up straight and smile!
  2. You can use some photos from the BBC News website in your School Report work but only if they have one of the following credits in the bottom right-hand corner: AP, PA, AFP, Getty. That's because the BBC has already asked these news agencies for their permission on your behalf. Remember to reinstate this credit if you crop the photos.
  3. You should avoid the story and find something different to cover. Ongoing court cases can be really tricky to cover as there are lots of laws about what journalists can and can't report. It's less tricky to report once the court case has finished and there is a verdict, but still not easy. As a School Reporter, it's best to avoid covering court stories unless you've had lots of training about the legal system. Also, don't rely on what other journalists have reported, sometimes they get in trouble with the law for reporting something they are not supposed to.
  4. You should use music that you or your school have created. Copyright law protects people's work and if you use something that you don't have permission to, you could be in trouble. To avoid the risk of infringing somebody else's copyright, use music you have created. The only disk you can copy from is the one that School Report sends you, containing BBC news opening and closing titles, stings and jingles for you to use as part of School Report.
  5. The risk is that the musician might sue for defamation. That means, if you report something that you are not sure is true, about someone, and it makes others think less of them, you could be fined. Just because a newspaper has already published it won't protect you - neither will saying the musician "allegedly" made the comments. Be sure of your facts before reporting this kind of story.
  6. Contempt laws could be a problem if you published this headline. There are really strict rules on what journalists can and can't report about ongoing court cases. That's because, it's not fair to label people as guilty unless a judge says so, which happens at the end of a court case. Also, reporting cases that involve under 18s can be even more complicated. For School Report, it's best to avoid covering stories about crime.
  7. It's the editor who has overall responsibility to approve all articles, scripts, videos and audio before they are published. However, everyone on the team should point out anything that doesn't look right.
  8. You should ask a member of your team if they can find out if the tip is accurate before the broadcast is over. It's vital to make sure that what you are broadcasting is true but you can't forget about your responsibility to deliver the news. If you try to confirm it yourself, you could end up missing your on air deadline. Remember, it takes more than one person to put a news broadcast together. Ask your team for help - it's what people in the BBC newsroom do!
  9. You should apologise and tell the audience you will try to bring them the story later. Mistakes happen, even on the best news bulletin. Audiences know this, so stay calm and keep going!
  10. Use their first name only. It's really important that you only use first name when referring to yourself, other School Reporters and any guests who are under 18. This rule applies to the reports you make and also any comments that people post on your school website.
  11. You should remind your teacher that your news needs to be on the school website by 4pm. The BBC links to your school website so it's important your news is online by 4pm on News Day. Remind your teacher - and don't forget to thank them for their help!

Your Score

0 - 3 : Keep working at it

4 - 7 : Good but could be better

8 - 11 : Well done!

The online test gives you the answers at the end of the test. If you are using the quiz worksheet, the answers can be found here:

Are you ready to take part in a News Day? See how much you know with this quiz, which also has several scenarios to test how you would react in different situations.

Pupils can take the above quiz online, either on this page or on a separate page which is easier to email and distribute at school; a low-tech alternative would be to print out this worksheet:

  • For reference, teachers may like to look at previous years' resources including 2009-10 and 2006-8.

Approved rubber stamp graphic

This lesson has been approved by the BBC College of Journalism.



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