Pupil Premium

Written by Sally Hunt.

Our interactive workshops are increasingly being booked by Pupil Premium Administrators as external specialised support to the English department, to raise achievement and improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

We work with students of all abilities, but we have received some outstanding testimonials on the impact our workshop has had on pupil achievement. A day learning about being a reporter goes some way to closing the gap between the less literate pupils and their peers.

[click to enlarge a testimonial from an Abington Academy student]One Year 7 student at Heyford Free School had reading and writing difficulties and been receiving one-to-one attention for the whole year. He received an award for Excellent Article Writing at the end of the Journalism workshop, reducing his teacher to tears of pride. The lovely thing was, I didn’t know anything about his past and had quite genuinely picked out his article as a superb example to read out to the class!

Please click on the image (right) to open/download a testimonial from a student at Abington Academy (Adobe Acrobat or Reader required).

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

Written by Sally Hunt.

Journalism for Schools had the pleasure of spending a day with Year 6/Year 7 students at Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough during their Summer School.

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.

Hawk man 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.

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I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick a handful of students to do a personal interview with Tony (hawk man). 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 whole day as much as the children.

Journalism Day during Skills Week

Written by Sally Hunt.

Journalism Workshops for Secondary and Primary schoolsI 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.

Journalism Day during Skills WeekAs 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.

Castle Rock High School - you rocked!!

Written by Sally Hunt.

Castle Rock High School in Coalville, LeicsMy biggest challenge yet – 150 Year 7’s, across all abilities, at Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leics … I did wonder if I would be spreading myself too thinly when I took on this full day workshop. But having some wonderful staff to work with meant the youngsters were all able to fully participate in the workshop as well as having some one to one time with me. I started off with presenting to a group of 50, in the drama studio, with the idea that I would do three talks to three groups of 50. However, this ran on into 45 minutes as I found myself faced with lots of enthusiastic children who were keen to ask questions! The teachers and I decided I would be fine mixing the next two groups together so I ended up with a lovely bunch of students – 100 in total – listening intently to my Powerpoint presentation.

After the presentations I whizzed from classroom to classroom looking at work, helping with some great interview techniques and making suggestions. In one classroom I was greeted enthusiastically by the teacher who said: “We’ve been waiting for you ….” It turned out they had all written questions for me so I perched on the desk while some very well-thought out questions were fired at me! One of the things I had taught them was ‘don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions when you’re interviewing someone’ ….. I was reminded of this by one of the students who asked me if my job affected my love life!!

After lunch I spent time marking some excellent articles and picking out ‘winners’ – no easy task with such a high standard of work. Back in the drama studio I gave them constructive criticism and read out some particularly good pieces of work. Then certificates were handed out to some great ‘junior journalists’ and we had a bit of time left for some more questions and answers.

I had a fantastic time at this school, everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic. The children were extremely well behaved and everyone tried hard. I took some camcorder footage which should be on here soon. It wasn’t exactly a testimonial to what she’d learnt, but one girl said she’d had such a good time today because it was so different from everyday work! 

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