Teacher Resources: How to make the most of School Report

Holyhead students interviewing Jamaican athletes Students from Holyhead School had the opportunity to interview Jamaican athletes before the 2012 Olympic Games

My first thoughts when I found out about BBC News School Report was that it would be a great opportunity to gain an insight into what the students find important in their lives, while giving them some key skills and opportunities to widen their life experiences.

When I first looked into registering for School Report the process was straight forward, and the website easily guided you through the steps.

Teresa's top tips

  • Be enthusiastic - this will be contagious with your students
  • Use the School Report website for help and support, but tailor your approach to what works best for you and your group
  • Don't be afraid to aim high - the worst someone can say is no!
  • Meet regularly with students: group rules and expectations are important to success
  • Remember a story doesn't have to be filmed, it could also work as an audio, written or photo story
  • Mix age groups - this encourages peer support from older students
  • Find out what your students are personally interested in
  • Allow the students to conduct research themselves
  • Encourage a professional approach

I must say however, once you have gone through the initial process figuring out what comes next was daunting: where do you start?

I wasn't sure what I needed to show the students and how to make sure it engaged them - you need to look through the information in the Teacher Resources section of the website and decide what you want and what you don't want.

You don't need to cover all the steps, they are there just to help you. I found tailoring what I wanted to suit my group worked well, and you can use the information as you need it to encourage and support what you're doing.

I found the process overall to be simple, and the enthusiasm for the project meant that I was initially overwhelmed by student response to join the group.

As it was my first year, keeping the group small and using a range of ages ensured that it was not only manageable but the older students were able to support the younger ones - for me this was vital as various skills and experiences can be peer taught, which I believe is one of the best teaching tools.

Engaging boys has probably proved the most difficult challenge in my experience, but again, you just need to find what interests them.

More tips from Jo Debens, Priory School, Portsmouth

  • We have a trip somewhere for the lead feature
  • We find working with smaller groups is more effective
  • Prior to the live day we run skills workshops
  • Run through BBC School Report practice exercises
  • On the live day we let the students run everything
  • Think through logistics ahead of the big day
  • Create a strict timeline for the day
  • Get your local media involved
  • Make it big. The children feed off of the fact that this is a real event

I have adapted the group dynamics to engage the boys and provide them with something they will enjoy.

We discussed as a group the stories we would like to cover, and since the Olympics was the biggest event at the time, most of our stories were Olympics-based.

We met once a week to decide what stories the students wanted to report on; as lead teacher I would make the initial contact and then the students would research and compile the questions.

Making contact can be time consuming and take a lot of emails and phone calls - but you can of course get the students to make the calls themselves if you have the facility to do this, and if you can be there to oversee it.

To find the information and contact details again took time and research, but the students can carry out the research and I found most people to be helpful.

Students met Jamaican athletes Students from Holyhead School made the most of their opportunities

I found that as I was proactive and the students were professional, the contacts I made have come back to me to see if were interested in other stories.

I have now built up a bank of contacts which has proved really helpful.

We are fortunate enough to have some great equipment, and many of our interviews were filmed, though we also made use of photos and audio resources. This is great for the students as they are gaining technical experience.

I found that the students needed a fair bit of guidance initially, but after a few sessions they start to gain an idea of what they want and how they want it.

It is time consuming, but very rewarding. I have been fortunate and have a lot of support from my school, which has meant that I have been able to really give my students the support and time they have needed.

Main Outcomes:

  • Pupils gain experience in conducting their own research and acting in a professional capacity
  • Technical experience through the use of different equipment
  • Seeing finished pieces online is very rewarding for all involved
  • Students develop both their group and interpersonal skills
  • Literacy and IT skills are improved
  • Students gain a valuable insight into the media industry

It has been an amazing first year. We have been very proactive and produced some great stories. The students love to see their finished pieces on the website, and when fellow students and teachers comment on these, the smile on their faces makes all the time and effort well worth it.

The students have developed as a group and their skills have improved beyond expectations. For me personally, seeing the students develop considerably has probably been the most rewarding aspect.

Quiet members of the group have found a voice and made new friendships with people they perhaps wouldn't have otherwise. They have developed many skills: literacy, IT and media, communication, interpersonal and collaboration.

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