SCHOOL REPORT MENTORS
THIS PAGE IS FOR BBC STAFF WITH AN INTEREST IN BECOMING A MENTOR FOR BBC NEWS SCHOOL REPORT.
BBC News School Report is in its eighth year of helping young people around the UK - and we need BBC mentors to help bring the project to life in schools all around the UK.
School Report is the BBC's journalism project for 11-16-year-olds, engaging thousands of young people around the UK in making the news for a real audience.
We know that schools really value the expertise and real-life skills of BBC staff.
So if you're interested in helping young journalists report the news, this page should answer many of your questions about how to get involved and what you can expect.
WHAT is a mentor and what do they do?
A School Report mentor is someone that can help by providing support and encouragement for teachers as well as working with students to help them to understand the project and discuss ways to make their News Day a big success.
Mentors are role models and ambassadors for the BBC and they will work with both teachers and 11-16 year olds as part of School Report. The role involves helping a teacher and their students prepare to take part in School Report News Day in March.
What mentors actually do varies hugely, depending on the skills of the person involved, the age of the students and the type of school. Here are some ideas of what being a mentor could involve:
• visiting the school on a regular basis to help deliver lessons to the pupils and work with them on their news stories
• going to a school for a whole day and assisting with a Practice News Day - or maybe working with a small group of children and accompanying teacher to record an interview
• leading an assembly, chatting to staff in the staff room or holding a meeting with the lead teacher to develop ideas and offer practical tips.
• offering phone or email help and advice to teachers
Some mentors get involved in their delivery, some don't. Teachers and mentors agree how the training and delivery of the project will work.
On News Day, which takes place on 27 March 2014, mentors - if they are available - can help the lead teacher to bring the project together, working to a 1400 GMT deadline!
WHO can be a mentor?
BBC staff (from any division and any grade) can be mentors, provided they are cleared by their line manager to take part.
Staff can mentor by phone, email or in person and we can help to find something for you whether you have a number of days to offer or you have a limited amount of time.
This would also be an ideal opportunity for anyone looking to build or develop their journalism skills.
WHY should I become a mentor?
Mentoring and working with teachers and students offers opportunities and experiences not always available in the BBC workplace.
WHAT DOES A MENTOR DO?
- Help prepare for School Report News Day
- Support the lead teacher
- Help to identify stories
- Give an insight into the BBC and the media
School Report mentors can give as much, or as little time, as work and other commitments allow. It can provide lots of personal and professional development opportunities, many elements of which can be included in appraisals.
Organisational, leadership, planning and technical skills are some that could be included.
It is an excellent way for building contacts in a local community, increases understanding of a school-age audience and can provide that "feel-good factor" at the end of the day after working with a room full of enthusiastic students!
WHERE can I mentor?
Mentors are matched to schools all over the UK on a first-come, first-served basis.
Mentors are only allocated to schools that have signed up to take part in School Report. But if a mentor wants to approach a particular school that is not yet taking part, we have some suggested links and a template letter that can be sent to schools encouraging them to sign up.
HOW do I sign up to be a mentor?
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or finding out more about the role, please send an email to Laura MacDonald (email@example.com)
After this initial step, you will also need to:
1. Get permission from your manager. You will be representing the BBC in this role and your manager should understand that. Any time off (up to a maximum of three days) or expenses that you incur are picked up by your department.
2. Complete the online training modules about child protection on the Gateway intranet site.
3. Fill out the personal disclosure form which will be supplied by the School Report team. This confirms that you have completed the online training module, have line manager approval to take part and are a suitable person to work with young people.
4. Apply for a basic criminal record check via the Disclosure Scotland website.
5. Get yourself matched to a school (or even schools) by talking to our mentor co-ordinator.
Once you've been matched to a school, you can contact the lead teacher and discuss how you can help them run the project in the school.
When you contact the school, find out what the lead teacher has planned, how much they understand the project and be clear about what skills you can offer. Now is a good time to agree the time commitment you can give.
How much time do I need to give?
Schools don't need a mentor to run the project and not all will have one. Having a mentor adds an extra dimension.
Mentors can therefore give as much or as little time as their BBC work allows. Not every mentor can spend the maximum of three days in a school.
For some, BBC operational commitments mean that a mentor can only offer the lead teacher support on the end of a phone or on email, but this is fine - any BBC contact and advice in a school is always welcome.
This diary from the pupils, teachers and BBC mentor Maddy Savage shows what can be achieved over the phone!
I haven't worked with children before, what do I need to do?
You will actually be a mentor to the teacher running School Report rather than to individual pupils but as you will be in contact with children in a BBC capacity, we do have some requirements.
Everyone needs to complete a personal disclosure form. This confirms that you have completed the online training module, have line manager approval to take part and have never been "cautioned or convicted of any offence relating to children or young people; and/or subject to any disciplinary action or sanction relating to children".
We also require mentors to familiarise themselves with the BBC's guidelines on working with young people.
We want you and the school to get the very best out of the experience and so we offer plenty of advice on working in schools at briefing sessions and you can always contact the School Report team.
The BBC requires staff to fill out risk assessment forms before they work with schools and young people. What might be a routine assignment for an experienced journalist is likely to be a new experience for young people, and completing a risk assessment helps to identify and plan for any potential problems before they occur.
School Report can help by supplying generic risk assessments which detail some of the key child protection issues to do with the project - not using surnames, not being left alone with young people, etc - but each assessment should be adapted in line with the specifics of what you will be doing.
If anything concerns you, don't hesitate to get in touch. The editor of School Report is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don't have a news background - can I mentor on a news project?
We can offer basic news training for non-news people. But don't feel afraid of doing news.
You will have watched, listened and read lots yourself and we can provide help and advice.
We provide schools with information about the legal issues and they are asked to steer clear of court reporting and anything that may be defamatory.
And be sure to check out our "new to news" briefing page to read more about news and how it's made.