A chance to interview hawkman (not a super-hero!)

Journalism for Schools had the pleasure of doing a Summer School Workshop with Year 6/Year 7 students at Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough.

Although the students were all very interested in the workshop, it was, after all work, and the highlight of the day, I have to admit, was when ‘hawk man’ came in at lunchtime! The school had been having a problem with seagulls swooping down in the playground and the administration team had called upon the services of an experienced falconer who was able to fly his hawk safely around the school area to frighten off the seagulls.

Hawkman was called Tony and while they were on their lunch break the children got a great demonstration and talk about his hawk, her daily life, how she was trained, her character and general lifestyle.

We had spent the morning learning about how news reporters work during their day-to-day life of filling the pages of a newspaper. I had talked with them about how we find news and about reporting news, most importantly, with truth and accuracy. The children had enjoyed working in pairs and interviewing each other while taking notes ready to write up their articles after lunch.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick a handful of students to do a personal interview with Tony (hawkman). We checked with him and he was happy to chat to the students. I left my assistant to work with the other students who were writing up their articles and sat with the group interviewing Tony. This gave them the chance to ask a real person questions and a chance for me to help them get the general story from Tony. We asked him about himself and where he worked, about the hawk, her name, age and breed and a brief history of her life. We asked him how the hawk worked as a deterrent and why, and how long did it take to take effect. The kids were great and asked such questions as ‘will the hawk ever eat a seagull?’ and some good questions such as did Tony get emotionally attached to his birds and what do they eat, how long do they live etc?

Afterwards, we went back into the IT suite and joined the others who were finishing off their articles. I saw some lovely work and was very impressed that the students had clearly listened to me and were writing up their articles starting with the main summary of the story followed by more detail.

The students who had been interviewing Tony got straight to work and I could see quite quickly some fab headlines and great opening paragraphs. They all said to me that they were enjoying writing their articles and I could literally see their minds ticking over as they put the ‘pieces’ of the article together from their notes.

At this point I was also answering lot of questions and getting some feedback from the children about what they thought a journalist was, and what they learned from me today that they didn’t know before.

In general, I felt very proud of the students for everything they had learnt and taken in throughout the day and then used in their end-product articles. There was a range of abilities but I felt that everyone got something out of it as it enabled them to develop ideas in their mind and then see the finished results on paper.

Thank you very much as well to the staff who really got into the spirit of it and hopefully enjoyed the Summer School Workshop as much as the children.