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Can our young journalists meet their deadlines?

LATE nights, temperamental technology and last-minute scrambles for deadlines are the occupational hazards of producing a newspaper, pupils found this week.

Newspaper teams from about 1,000 British and international schools entered this year's TES Newsday competition, requiring schools to compile a newspaper or website in just one day.

Last year, the prize for secondary school newspaper went to The Piranha, produced by pupils at Robert Gordon's college in Aberdeen. Having worked until 10pm to complete the paper, student journalist Michelle Allan, 15, knows the stress involved.

"You don't have the luxury of argument - that's time you are not working," she said. "But we end up screaming at the computers and printers. At the end of the day, you say you'll never do it again, and then you sign up for next year."

Maggie Morris, head of English and Newsday co-ordinator for the Moat special school in south-west London, said that getting an entry together was never uneventful. "They get a lot of out of it," she said. "They gain from working together. We also do a lot of work prior to the day, looking at tabloids and broadsheets, which encourages them to read newspapers."

"One year, the printer took ages to print and I had to rush to catch the last post. It was nail-biting."

But, she said, her pupils would gain from the event and enjoy the boost of seeing their names in print.

Today is the final deadline for entries. Prizes include personal computers and digital cameras, and the winners will be announced in June, at a ceremony at the House of Commons.

Brian Robinson, ICT adviser for Redcar and Cleveland education authority, and organiser of the competition which has run since 1991, said students benefited from working together under pressure.

"They really have to meet that deadline," he said. "It has to be the paper of today, not tomorrow or next week. That's not the way education usually works."

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