I had the pleasure of taking Journalism for Schools to the second biggest secondary school in Wales, right at the end of term, during their Skills Week. I worked with a large group of Year 9’s, around 100 students in all, which was challenging but worked well as I had lots of adult helpers to supervise them as they worked in smaller groups. This was the first time I had worked in a hall with a stage so I was a little intimidated by the thought of standing up there like a head teacher!!
The students all worked hard during the morning, learning about interviewing and note-taking. They wrote up their stories in the IT suites and I was very impressed that despite the large number of pupils there was no messing about and they were a very hard-working bunch.
In the afternoon students were interviewed on something personal and I incorporated two themes which were already being used in Skills Week. One: Changing our Streets around Brynteg: a Manifesto for Change, and two: A bad experience they have had (which could include bullying, or cyber bullying). They were allowed to be themselves, or someone else, an imaginary person if it helped them to play the role.
As the interviews and note-taking progressed I could see how much they had learnt from the morning’s work. Some excellent articles were later produced and I was hard-pushed to choose the best ones. When I was marking them I was looking for those who had listened to the general rule of newspaper journalism: summarise the story in the first paragraph, and then go on to fill in the details. I was also looking out for accuracy and the use of quotes in the feature.
Well done to all of the students at Brynteg School who took part and are now starting in Year 10. I hope this insight into how English is used in the real world will help you understand the importance of writing accurately and checking your work, particulary if something is going to be published.