International students getting a taste of British journalism!

Written by Sally Hunt.

I had the absolute pleasure this year of working for the Oxford Royale Academy’s international summer enrichment programme held at various different Oxford University Halls. Over the school holidays I did two workshops a week with children in two age groups – 13-15 and 16-18.

These young people had come to the UK from over 90 different countries and were staying on a residential basis. Over the two-week period they took part in many academic and sporting workshops as well as enjoying visits to London and gaining a full immersion into the Oxford student environment.

I had to adjust my workshop to make it very ‘British’ and also to make sure I was keeping these very bright students engaged. Some of them spoke several languages and went to international schools back home in the country they lived in. We usually focus on the town or city we live in, but as these students came from all over the world it was fascinating to hear about their lives. We did a session on ‘what is the worst thing about where you live?’ Despite many of their home cities sounding like glamorous places to live it was interesting to hear some of the negatives – terrorism, pollution, poverty, insects, heat etc.

One of the mock interview sessions we did was with our very own ‘Royals’ – better known as Will and Kate! They could choose to interview Will or Kate. All the Wills got to wear a Will face and the Kates got to wear a tiara! The students loved the dressing up and the result was some great interviews – given free rein, the ‘Royals’ got up to all sorts!!

Over the weeks the students produced some excellent articles and mocked up newspaper front pages.

I hope I will be working with other groups next year as they had such a great time and learnt so much. I came away knowing why I love my job so much!

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Voice actor for famous cartoons takes part in our workshop!

Written by Sally Hunt.

It’s not often that I’m joined by a celebrity, but Barr Beacon School, in Walsall, organised to bring in voice actor Marc Silk to give a talk and to be interviewed by the students during our workshop.

So I worked with a very excited group of mixed year 7 and year 8’s in the morning, teaching them how to interview people and take notes in preparation for the star guest who has worked as Aks Moe in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Danger Mouse, Johnny Bravo, Pingu, Scooby-Doo & Shaggy!

When he arrived I was as amazed as the children at how highly versatile he was at his repertoire of voices. We had prepared our questions and the students were really good at remembering to ask how to spell things and checking the accuracy of the notes they were taking.

We spent far too much time interviewing him and listening to his fascinating stories so none of the articles got completed. But we all had a fab day and the students learnt loads about how to write a report for the paper about a visiting celebrity.

Barr Beacon School, Walsall Barr Beacon School, Walsall
Barr Beacon School, Walsall Barr Beacon School, Walsall

How to put together a school newsletter

Written by Sally Hunt.

This is a question I get asked regularly when visiting schools. Some schools already publish a school newsletter or magazine and some are wanting to get a group of students together to get one started.

There are two things to consider: how to find the news and what sort of content to put in your magazine.

A school is a community just like a small town or village and there are lots of things going on in and out of school that other people might find interesting to read about.

Some things may involve a bit of ‘finding out’ and you might want one or two reporters on your team to be in charge of this. It’s great if you can feature sport, music or other achievements that students have attained outside of school time. You may find out that someone has been picked to appear in the West End through their dance school, or take part in a national competition on the radio or the television. This really involves keeping your ear to the ground, reading local newspapers and having friends in other years to pass on any information to you that they hear about.

Within school, events, visits and school residentials all make great articles. It’s nice if you can get someone who was involved to write a piece for the newsletter and provide some photographs.

Other content ideas include:

•             Profile on a student or teacher

•             School Council news

•             Questions to the Head

•             Information – such as changes to lunch times, key dates,lessons, after-school clubs.

•             New buildings or classrooms

•             Teacher retirement or appointment.

•             Quiz or puzzle submitted by a child each month

•             Any information from school letters that may need reiterating

•             Lunch menu?

•             Focus on different after school clubs

•             Work experience

•             Duke of Edinburgh

•             Sports/Academic/Music achievements

•             Any national or local awards accredited to the school

•             Community work or volunteering

•             Fundraising

•             Focus on Sixth form

•             Careers information

•             Teacher training at the school

•             National events such as The Big Draw and BBC School Report

•             School diary dates


The list goes on and on! Once you start thinking about it, there will be loads of things you can put in your school newsletter to make it interesting and informative to students and parents alike.

Roving Reporters go out and about in Hull!

Written by Sally Hunt.

Following on from a ‘Hold the Front Page’ workshop a group of Kelvin Hall School students were picked to take part in the ‘Roving Reporter’ workshop two weeks later. Students had to apply to join the group and those successful are going to be part of the new school newsletter team. Spending a day doing some real reporting was good practice for the new team!

The children first visited the city’s Hedgehog Hospital where they met the owner and founder, Lorraine, and her husband. They found out lots of information about hedgehogs, especially why they end up in the hospital and what happens to them once they are there. They were a superb group of well-behaved young people and respected the quiet and calm atmosphere the sick hedgehogs needed.

After the Hedgehog Hospital we visited the Animal Sanctuary where the children fell in love with a variety of dogs, cats and small animals that need new homes! We had already prepared questions back at school so the children were able to get lots of information from the management team.

After around an hour the children had made lots of notes and taken lots of pictures so we headed back to school for lunch. The afternoon was spent writing articles from notes with a little extra research being done if needed. This culminated in some excellent articles and some very happy children who had enjoyed a very different school day!

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