Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

November's Practice News Day

School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
Schools across the UK took part in a practice News Day in preparation for the UK-wide event in March.

Brentside High School in Ealing, London, Marden High School in North Shields, Tyne And Wear and Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex are just some of the schools that joined in on 13 November.

Students attending Bath Rugby Education Centre have also begun making and broadcasting the news.

The entries below chart the students' progress.


The news created by students at Brentside High School in Ealing, London, and Marden High School in North Shields, Tyne And Wear, has been successfully uploaded to the school websites.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Teacher Vesna Klein, from Brentside High, said: "It has been a fantastic day, and the students are really proud of their work. It has been stressful, but definitely worthwhile."

Local events and match reviews feature on the web pages dedicated to School Reporters at the Bath Rugby Education Centre.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Having spent the day reporting on Children in Need, one student at Brentside High decided to promote the charity around the school.

Teacher Vesna Klein said: "Posters have gone up and I've just found out there's going to be a charity cake stall at school tomorrow. A proposition for the head teacher is also being prepared, suggesting charities the school should support."

Ms Klein also commented on the "dedication, hard work and professionalism" of students who took the initiative to research and gather news outside of school hours. Irini, 12, interviewed residents on her estate about the possible imposition of a curfew for children and Jake reported his impressions of the Christmas lights being switched on in Oxford Street, London, on Wednesday night.


An evaluation of the practice News Day is taking place at Marden High School in North Shields, Tyne And Wear.

Ellie, 12, said: "Working to a deadline was challenging and we could improve by using more interesting language, and adding in more interesting facts."

She was proud of the way her team simplified the jargon relating to the economy for younger students and of the way her script sounded when it was read aloud by a presenter.

Jenny, 12, was pleased that her team of three kept to time. One way to speed up preparation, she suggested, would be to brainstorm ideas on paper, rather than spend too much time in discussion.


School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
Krithi and Misha speak to the BBC about their findings
Students at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex, vox-popped staff and students about the credit crunch, the US elections and a girl's life-threatening decision to refuse an operation.

During her research, Krithi, 13, interviewed a student and her mother about the credit crunch to discover that they had both cut down on clothes shopping.

School trips and holidays at Christmas time were some of the other expenditures to be sacrificed by staff and students as a result of the current economic climate.

All of the seven people interviewed by Simone believed that Barack Obama was a great inspiration and some hoped that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be also be inspired.

School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
Simone reveals that Barack Obama is a hit with the people she interviewed
While conducting her interviews, the 13-year-old found that simultaneous interviewing and note-taking was a tricky skill to master but that "writing down bullet points, rather than complete sentences" was an effective technique.

Zahra, 13, was keen to find out if people believed there was link between crime and swearing on TV.

She said: "I spoke to people of all different ages to get different views; some thought swearing was a way for people to prove themselves and others thought it was disrespectful."

Tara and Lucy are the same age as 13-year-old Hannah Jones, who has leukaemia, and who has refused a heart transplant operation, which may ultimately lead to her death.

Some staff students felt Hannah was too young to make the decision, but others believed she was sufficiently mature.

"They told us that if she could make decisions affecting her future, such as which GCSEs to take, she is also able to make the decision about whether or not to have surgery," said Tara and Lucy.

They added: "We were really surprised by one teacher's reaction. He said he didn't have an opinion on the matter because it was Hannah who was going through it, and only she should comment."


At Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex, students have narrowed down the stories they have been researching to create their own running order.

They have chosen to look at what it will mean to have a black president in the US, what people are prepared to give up as a result of the credit crunch and views on swearing and violence on TV.

Teacher Michelle Heryet said: "The students are thinking about national stories at a local level and interviewing and staff, some of which are also parents, about their chosen subjects."

Nanci Lister said: "As a teacher, I've enjoyed seeing their growing sense of confidence and the way that - once they've engaged with a story - they are off like hounds trying to catch the hare."

She added: "The girls have developed a sense of initiative as well as gaining insight into news-making process; the accuracy, preparation, working at speed and balancing opinions which are involved.


Brentside High School in Ealing, London
News Room 2 at Brentside High
At Brentside High School, in Ealing, London, sixty students are divided into two newsrooms.

In one newsroom, students are working on stories about the collapse of a school in Haiti, a girl labelled the "real-life Mowgli" who grew up with wild animals, the US elections, faults relating to the XBox 360 games console and the switching on of the Oxford Street lights in London.

English teacher Kate Richards said: "To go with the school collapse story we've got a quote about safety from the builders who constructed our school, which is only three years old."

She added: "I've really enjoyed seeing the students getting passionate about their news stories and making sure they are as well written as possible.

"It's also been great to see them reading and interpreting the news. Two weeks ago, when we started this project, they didn't pick up and read newspapers, but now they understand - and enjoy - the news."


School Reporters at Brentside High School in Ealing, London
News Room 1 at Brentside High School in Ealing, London
In the second newsroom at Brentside High, students have been researching stories about Children in Need, the release of a new war-based video game and a proposed curfew for children living on a local estate.

Irini, 12, interviewed residents on the Perivale Medway estate where she lives and where there is talk of imposing a curfew order, banning young people from defined areas at set times, as a way of tackling vandalism.

She said: "The mum I interviewed said children had every right to use the area, as well as adults, and that it was better for them to play locally where parents would know they were safe."

She added: "A neighbour said that children should be allowed to maintain their daily exercise."

Irini believes that by imposing the supervision of younger children, while allowing older teenagers to play freely, vandalism would be reduced on the estate.

Teacher Vesna Klein explained that 60 Year 8 students were taking part in the practice News Day.


At Marden High School , students are focusing on news with a statistical slant.

Maths teacher Brendan Scanlon explained that devising questionnaires helped student back up facts with statistics and also encouraged them to focus on a few particular angles.

He said: "People don't want to complete a survey that's two pages long, so students are learning to cut the questions down to ones that really focus on the essential elements of the story."

He added: "We've also been looking at the effect of leading questions and how it is possible to twist statistics."

Ryan, 12, has prepared questionnaire to find what people at school think about the proposed ice-rink in Tynemouth.

He said: "Some councillors think it's a good idea as it will decrease antisocial behaviour while others oppose the idea because there is already an ice-rink in Whitley Bay. It could attract more people to the area, which might be uncomfortable, but it might be good as well."

Victoria, 12, who is working on a story about Children in Need has also compiled a questionnaire for people in the playground, asking them how they've helped people and what they plan to do for the charity event. She said: "I want to find out if they're doing anything really unusual for Children in Need", adding "I'm collecting pennies for Pudsey, giving all the loose pennies we have round the house to charity."

Curriculum leader for media, Karen Melling explained that the B-Tec Year 10 group were passing on their technical skills to the younger students by helping them edit footage of an interview with Dr Pete Edwards from Durham University, who has been to CERN and inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Phillipa, 13, said: "We were concerned that the colider could destroy the earth after rumours in the media, but he told us that it couldn't. Now I feel a lot safer."
While 12 students are taking part in November's practice News Day, 130 Year 8 students will be involved in the project during the year.


At Heathfield School, the day began with a survey of the 13 girls taking part in the practice News Day. It revealed that they prefer to watch, rather than read or listen to the news.

Students watched the BBC News on a new TV in the reception area of the school to find out about today's new stories.

Manjiri, 13, said: "I'm interested in the Baby P death, the presidential elections in the US and Shannon Mathews.

Although a lot of the news is tragic, it's important to know about horrible things so we can prevent them for happening in the future.

The President has a big responsibility and has to make some big decisions which affect everyone; like the war in Iraq and whether to take the troops out, or not.

Hannah, 13, said: "I'm interested in the recession. As well as affecting adults it also affects children; if adults lose their jobs, they can't support their family."

Teacher Michelle Heryet explained that the Year 9 students were using the day to understand the basic principles of journalism.

"Our objectives for the day are to use the Huw Edwards videos to understand what makes a good headline, the five Ws, the three Cs, the difference between fact and opinion and the reasons for the order in which news stories appear." she said.

Hannah, 13, added: "I'm looking forward to learning about how the BBC make news with them. It feels kind of scary working with the BBC, as they are on the TV all the time and we are a school in Pinner."

"Being a BBC School Reporter means that I'm going to be more careful in what I say and write, which will help me with my English."

This "grounding" day will be followed by a "practical" day on the 11 December - the second practice News Day in the School Report calendar.

Ms Heryet said: "We'll be getting the cameras and microphones out and using the software."

School Reporters at Heathfield School in Pinner, Middlesex
BBC News is streamed into the reception area at Heathfield School

Take part in a practice News Day
17 Oct 08 |  School Report
February's practice News Day
21 Feb 08 |  School Report

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