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Pupils show they have a nose for a story and a head for business

The best school magazines of 2009 won gongs at a glitzy ceremony in Edinburgh and work experience with the pros. Now it's time to sign up for the 2010 awards

The best school magazines of 2009 won gongs at a glitzy ceremony in Edinburgh and work experience with the pros. Now it's time to sign up for the 2010 awards

Does your school take its magazine seriously enough? Do the pupils run it like a business, making the commercial and editorial decisions for themselves?

As competition for university places and jobs intensifies, admissions officers and employers increasingly look beyond exam passes at extra- curricular activities and work experience. Any evidence pupils can produce that makes them stand out will enhance their chances.

The magazine industry is doing its bit to help through its own professional association, PPA Scotland. Members range from The TESS to Homes and Interiors, Heat, Clash, The List and Scottish Farmer, but all are keen to nurture future talent.

Every year the Scottish School Magazine Competition, run by PPA Scotland and sponsored by The TESS, brings winners together with publishers, journalists, editors and representatives from the printing, distributing and retail industries.

Individual categories cover writing, art and design, ICT and business skills, and there's an overall prize for the Scottish School Magazine of the Year.

Winners are offered work experience on a magazine or receive industry talks or presentations, as well as attending the glitzy gala dinner in Edinburgh for the professional magazine awards of the year, where they can meet the editors and publishers who could be their future employers.

Last year, PPA Scotland ran workshops for winners at St George's School for Girls in Edinburgh and Coatbridge High in North Lanarkshire. St George's won the Gold Magazine Award of the Year for its Independent Women, while Coatbridge won Best Editorial Content for Rare Beast.

Brae High in Shetland won Best Commercial Strategy and was runner-up for Magazine of the Year with Borealis. It sent two pupils for work experience on The TESS. Last July, fourth-years Martha Morton and Rowan Johnson spent half a day with The TESS and half a day with CMYK Design, which helps companies to produce glossy magazines or flyers.

At TESS, Martha says they learnt "a lot about the world of journalism and the production side of a magazine". They also wrote articles for our Christmas and New Year editions. At CMYK, they were taught about magazine design and how to work with QuarkXpress, a free copy of which went to each of last year's winning schools.

Borealis comes out once a year, in June, and is produced by a group of eight pupils, ranging from S1-6. Martha, now in fifth year, helps on the business side, as well as doing some design and layout.

"We had about 10 advertisers last year, all local businesses such as the bus company and the small supermarkets and building companies," she says.

"I also work on design and layout. We try to make it as varied as possible, for example, a spread of poems by fifth year, or interview pages."

Martha is thinking about going into journalism. She and Rowan picked up a great deal from the work experience, which is helping with the current magazine, she says. It should be finished in March, in time for entering this year's awards.

The Scottish School Magazine Competition can benefit pupils in lots of ways, says Kathy Crawford, PPA Scotland's business manager, and it contributes to building the four capacities in Curriculum for Excellence.

"It will," she explains, "help pupils to be successful learners and increase their literacy skills; provide a platform for them to show leadership capabilities and become confident individuals; encourage them to work in teams as effective contributors; and give them confidence to improve communication with the wider community and show they are responsible citizens."

Over 50 schools have already registered for this year's competition, and the PPA is hoping for many more to compete for their gold, silver and bronze awards.


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