News: The Next Generation

Thursday 11 March 2010, 16:22

Alec McGivan Alec McGivan Head of BBC Outreach

Some days make me really proud to work at the BBC and today has been one of those. Quality news coverage is, and always has been, at the core of the BBC and this includes a responsibility to help audiences understand the issues affecting them.

We're always looking for fresh voices and today we were able to offer the nation's 11-14 year olds a chance to talk about the issues that matter to them on BBC School Report News Day, the annual event which sees young journalists preparing and broadcasting their own reports.

It's been all go from early this morning at Television Centre, where the day kicked off with a world record attempt. Students from schools across the UK, including a team here in the Blue Peter garden, recorded the temperature at precisely 9.15am then sent through their data to the BBC Weather Centre. The data was verified by, amongst others, the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham as well as the legendary weatherman, Michael Fish. We then compiled it into what we hope will be the largest ever interactive weather report.

Later on, I was joined by Caroline Thomson, the BBC's Chief Operating Officer, to see students from the London Academy as they talked on a live radio broadcast. The students had the opportunity to put their questions to Maggie Atkinson, the new Children's Commissioner for England, and to interview Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton who has just returned from her gruelling trip rowing the Amazon for Sport Relief.

Of course, the action wasn't all happening in Television Centre. Broadcasts have been coming in from all over the country. You can read, watch and listen to the reports online but the highlights for me included a humbling conversation between the Winterbourne International Academy and students in Kabul, the Cockermouth School report on the floods which hit their town last year, (during which they got to speak to Lord Mandelson as he visited the town) and David Cameron being grilled by students from schools in Bristol, Lewisham and Salford.

It's been particularly rewarding for me to see the success of today as I remember the start of the project four years ago. To see over 700 schools taking part, a good rise on the 524 which took part last year, makes me feel especially proud and privileged to be a part of such an organisation. Next week, the focus shifts to Schools Question Time and the judging of the regional finals. It starts on Monday at Cator Park school in Bromley and ends in July when the winners get to broadcast their own Schools Question Time programme. I'm one of the judges and looking forward to it already!


Alec McGivan is the Head of BBC Outreach, Corporate Responsibility & Partnerships

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