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!

Exotic animals join us for a workshop!

Written by Sally Hunt.

As a small business I try to do my best to support charities local to me, or the school I am working in. A teacher from St John Fisher School in Peterborough had been in touch to ask if they could book a workshop, but she wanted the children to be able to interview someone real, maybe even go out and about in the local area.

Due to transport constraints and the fact that there was nothing within walking distance I decided to ask a local charity if they would like to come in and be interviewed. The Exotic Pet Refuge is a charity which rescues and looks after pets that are far from the norm. In fact they have an alligator, snakes, owls and several monkeys among their menagerie, which almost equals a zoo!

Two lovely ladies from the refuge came into school and brought with them a bearded dragon and a corn snake for the children to hold. I had instructed them that they weren’t giving a talk – they were being interviewed!

Before they arrived we talked about the questions we would ask, particularly the background information – how the charity had started, who was involved, the most unusual pet, the funniest story etc. Each of the students in the class had a question to ask and I explained the importance of note-taking and checking details to them. I also told them to listen out for emotive expressions from Pam, the founder, as it’s always good to include a quote or two in the article.

Some of them picked up some great quotes and even used them in their headlines when they wrote up their article later. Most of the group picked up on the best quote from Pam: “The refuge is me and I am the refuge – I live it, breathe it, sleep it.”

The students wrote some fantastic articles and absolutely loved the day. I’m sure lots of parents were hearing all about it that evening!

 National curriculum requirements met by this workshop:

•             Make notes, draft and write, including using information provided by others

•             Revise, edit and proof-read through:

•             Reflecting on whether their draft achieves the intended impact

•             Restructuring their writing, and amending its grammar and vocabulary to improve

•             Coherence, consistency, clarity and overall effectiveness

•             Paying attention to the accuracy and effectiveness of grammar, punctuation and spelling

Primary children call workshop ‘cool’ and ‘inspiring’

Written by Sally Hunt.

I recently had the pleasure of working with a delightful bunch of 24 pupil premium children at the St Thomas More RC Primary School in Peterborough. Their levels were between 2c and 4c so each exercise had to be tailored to the most effective use of differentiation to give them the best possible chance of learning.

The children were from years 3,4 and 5 and are at the age where they love to share their ideas – and in fact they had some great ones!

At break time one year 3 asked her teacher if they would be doing this until the end of the day. When the teacher said ‘yes’ she jumped up in the air and whooped and all the children around her started cheering. I went and got a coffee and thought ‘I must be doing something right – they are loving it!’.

The enthusiasm continued throughout the whole day and I will always remember this group as the ones that wanted to carry on and on and on…. Just before home time I started getting questions as to whether I was coming back tomorrow…. Sadly I wasn’t, but it was lovely to leave them knowing they had not only learned lots, but had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Their Pupil Premium Champion Francesca Trono sent me an email the next day with some lovely comments from the children.

One of them, Sophia (year 4), said: "I thought it was kind of inspiring because we practiced interviewing people and writing our ideas. Then we made them into an opening paragraph." Rhonda (year 4) added: "I thought it was cool when one of us pretended to be Jessie J and the other was a reporter. I liked it because if we want to become reporters when we're older it will really help us."

She also wanted to add her own testimonial: "The workshop was an interesting introduction into the world of journalism. The children were engaged in their activities and their confidence grew throughout the day."

 

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