Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

From bikes to banter in N Ireland

Ryan Farquhar
A scoop: Magherafelt High reporters with champion Ryan Farquhar

From an interview with a famous motorcycling champion to a radio lesson on how to speak "true Derry", it has been a School Report year to remember.

This year's Northern Ireland school reporters came face to face with celebrities and put a few local politicians on the spot.

The project offers young people aged 11 to 14 the chance to get behind the microphone and report on their world.

The schools were also asked to tackle the theme of obesity.

Childhood obesity and the resulting health complications are of major concern throughout the United Kingdom.

Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch took to their theme, imagining "old Assumption girl," pictured in faded black and white, struggling up the school lane under the weight of her heavy bag.

"New Assumption girl," could be filmed in the school's state-of-the-art gym and enjoying a healthy meal in the modern canteen.

"We're an all girls' school, where image and weight can be a sensitive area for many," said journalism teacher Marcelle Orsi.

"The pupils did what any good journalist would do and approached it in a way that allowed them to research and examine this topic in an interesting yet inoffensive way."

School Report is a marvellous learning experience, she said.

"The BBC School Report website had some invaluable lessons and I think they tended to listen more attentively when Huw Edwards warned them about the need to be correct, concise and clear," she said.

Lights, camera, action: reporting from Assumption Grammar School

As well as a video package on obesity, the budding journalists made a radio package about their visit to New York. Pupils came up with a business idea based on selling manure that saw them coming first in Northern Ireland and third overall in the UK.

For Chloe, making the radio package was thrilling: "My favourite part was writing and recording our radio script... it sounded very professional and mature," she said.

Benchil and Cara found the BBC team friendly and Hannah and Katie felt they were treated like adults, when they were trusted with all the camera equipment.

Magherafelt High School scored a coup when they secured an interview with motorcycle champion Ryan Farquhar - one of the biggest names in Irish road racing.

His arrival for interview at the school caused quite a stir.

"We felt like actual reporters," the pupils said.

They also interviewed their school nurse on the importance of staying healthy.

For teacher Denver Charles, School Report has proved a great learning experience and worked well for students involved in Years 8 and 9 Citizenship.

Tor Bank
It's a wrap: Tor Bank school pupils in the studio

At Tor Bank Special School in Belfast, young people enjoyed being roving reporters and recording the sounds of the school's Healthy Eating Day.

Young people at St Patrick's High School, Keady, tackled the theme of obesity with reports on teen magazines and body image, videogames and couch potato lifestyles. They also looked at poverty.

Lurgan Junior High set up an interview with a soldier who served in Afghanistan - a first hand account from the battlefield.

Students also brought in DUP assembly member and chairman of the NI Assembly's Health Committee Jim Wells to quiz him on fears that obesity levels in Northern Ireland could spiral and become unmanageable.

Girls from St Cecilia's College in Derry enjoyed support from the city's Verbal Arts Centre. They made a series of reports on themes ranging from the Troubles to Healthy Lifestyle to "Talking Derry" ... a guide to the locals' lingo.

BBC presenter Sarah Brett plans to play one of their packages on Radio Foyle and has invited the journalists of the future to come in for a live interview.

Slemish Integrated College, Ballymena, had their own take on the obesity theme.

The children made a radio package about the school "snoop" patrol ... the person who goes around enforcing the healthy eating rule by confiscating bottles of fizzy drink, sweets and crisps.

St Catherine's
News team: St Catherine's College reporters get ready for work

At St Catherine's College, Armagh, students enjoyed working with the technology on the BBC bus to produce their reports.

"The editing was really fun. It was tricky to copy and paste the voices, but it was really interesting to see how it was done," said Niamh.

"Using the recording equipment was really daunting, but I'm delighted with our final piece of work - it sounds really professional," said Rachel.

More than 20 schools registered to take part in School Report this year.

Young people also had the chance to visit the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont and put their questions to politicians from the two main parties, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein.

On Thursday 11 March at 1400 GMT, they link up their own school websites with BBC School Report and can watch and listen to themselves, their friends and other young people from across the United Kingdom... all making the news.

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