How The News is helping our local schools get involved in journalism and reporting    

Students at the workshop at Crookhorn College in Waterlooville. Picture: Malcolm Wells
Students at the workshop at Crookhorn College in Waterlooville. Picture: Malcolm Wells
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Children in the local community have taken part in a training workshop to become the next generation of budding junior reporters. 

The News journalism workshop was the first stage in the publication’s initiative to encourage news writing in which children can contribute stories to a weekly school reporters’ page. 

The News' education reporter Neil Fatkin - a former teacher - speaks to a group of pupils at Crookhorn College. Picture by Malcolm Wells

The News' education reporter Neil Fatkin - a former teacher - speaks to a group of pupils at Crookhorn College. Picture by Malcolm Wells

The event was hosted at Crookhorn College and also involved students from Park Community School, Purbrook Park, Hayling College, Horndean Technology College and Oaklands Catholic School.

Crookhorn College headteacher, Sarah Bennett, said: ‘I am delighted The News has given students this opportunity. Pupils were very keen to get involved and I am sure they will thrive on the responsibility they have been given and will rise to the challenge.’

 Editor of The News, Mark Waldron, added: ‘Our role in our communities is more than just reporting – it's getting involved. We hope to use this initiative to encourage children to get engaged with what is happening in their area and to give their voices a wider platform.’

The Year 8 and 9 students learnt the key points of constructing a news report including the use of headlines and images, writing introductions, interview techniques and the importance of balance and accuracy.

Year 9 Crookhorn College student, Karishma Mistry, said: ‘I have learnt a lot today about what is important when producing a news report.’

James Plater, 12, a Year 8 student at Hayling College, added: ‘I have really enjoyed the workshop and am interested in becoming a journalist when I leave school.’

In addition to providing a platform for students to showcase their skills the teaching staff involved also believe the partnership can help support students with their work back in school.

‘It is part of the exam curriculum and is a skill students need to learn. It benefits them academically and helps to improve their vocabulary,’ added Mr Falkins.

Some of the schools are planning on using the project to launch their own school publications and reporters’ clubs. ‘In conjunction with reporting for The News we are looking at running a school newspaper led by the students,’ explained Kelly Morrison, assistant lead English teacher at Purbrook Park School.  

In the final part of the session students came up with a range of ideas on potential topics for their first news story submissions. Examples of potential articles covered events such as charity fundraising, commemorating Armistice Day and school community initiatives such as the student lunch service for the elderly at Horndean Technology College.

Some of the pupils were keen to tackle more issue-based content covering student mental health, provision of physical education and the pros and cons of the use of student target levels.

‘I want to interview my headteacher about the mobile phone policy,’ said John Willis, 13.​​​​​​​​​​

View from the ‘chalkface’ – The importance of tasks with purpose

COMMENT by The News education reporter NEIL FATKIN:

ONE of the common questions I was often asked by students is ‘why are we doing this’? 

It is not surprising that the average 12-year-old may question why they are studying something from which their perspective is completely abstract to their everyday life. Whilst the formative glacial processes which carved our landscape during the last ice age are paramount to the  syllabus  they may not be quite so important in the complicated life of a teenager.  It is for this reason that students who may struggle academically often thrive when moving on to do more vocational-based courses.

This is why providing students with tasks which are relevant to real life situations and careers can often provide a purpose and focus which simply teaching something because it is on the exam syllabus can never do.

Producing a news report which may be displayed on the classroom wall is one thing but providing the opportunity for students to see their work published provides an incentive with tangible reward.

As headteacher at Crookhorn College, Sarah  Bennett, explained: ‘I was keen for our students to get involved in the project as it provides children with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to a real life situation.

‘It will be so important for them to see their work published.’ 

If the initiative can help to inspire even a handful of children as to the option of a potential future career then it will have in part achieved its aim. 

In addition to the development of academic skills, the project will also provide children with a potential platform in which their voice can be heard. In an adult dominated environment the perspective of a child can often be both enlightening and revealing.

As Raminika Sharma, English teacher at Oaklands Catholic School, explained: ‘It is brilliant for the students to take part. Children have a real enthusiasm for the world around them. It can be really inspirational to see things from a child’s eye perspective.’

The importance of student voice

IN addition to providing an opportunity to develop skills of report writing many of the students saw the junior reporters’ initiative as a platform to have their voice heard. 

Here is a selection of what the students said.

Alex Knight, 13, Year 9 at Purbrook Park School

‘I think it is a great opportunity as it is a career that appeals to me. We are the next generation of our country and we need to have a voice. It will also give us more confidence to speak out about important issues when we are older.’

Keira Power, 13, Year 9 at Horndean Technology College

‘I’ve always had an interest in writing. I am really interested in learning how to write a report as I am going to be part of the junior reporters putting together our school’s newspaper.’

Rowan Dodsworth, 12, Year 8 at Oaklands Catholic School.

‘Journalism as a career is something which really interests me. As adults you don’t have as much freedom and have a different perspective. I think having a child’s voice in the paper will give it a more creative side.’

Poppy Lyons, 12, Year 8 at Oaklands Catholic School.

‘I feel that it is important that the views of students are heard. It is important adults listen to children as young people have a better first-hand understanding of the issues affecting them – our voice needs to be heard.’

Matteo Galasso, 13, Year 9 at Park Community School.

‘I have really enjoyed today’s workshop and am looking forward to writing my first story. Today has given me an opportunity to learn more about report writing. It is important that young people have a voice as we are a large part of society.’

With the school reporters page set to be launched next month hopefully the initiative will be mutually beneficial in providing children with the opportunity to voice issues which are of concern to them and provide The News with a unique child centred perspective.