Eat your heart out Fleet Street

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Pupils turned hard-nosed hacks for a day to produce a paper or website in our annual competition. Adi Bloom reports

Journalists who complain about tight deadlines and even tighter word counts should try working for a school newspaper, according to winners of The TES Newsday competition.

Teams from British and international schools entered this year's competition, which required them to compile a newspaper or website in a day.

Last Friday, winning pupils attended a ceremony at the House of Commons where they received their awards from Vera Baird, Labour MP for Redcar.

Many of the winners agreed that the competition demanded the stamina and hard-nosed toughness for which journalists are renowned.

James Vincent, a 13-year-old from St Martin's independent school, in north London, helped to produce The Vision, which was named best first-time entry to the competition.

"It was very tense," he said. "We had to print off a 34-page paper on a single printer, and the computer froze 10 minutes before the end.

Professional journalists only have to work on one section. We had to put out a whole paper. I think what we did was a lot harder."

Kim Jarvis, 10, of Yarm primary, in Stockton-on-Tees, whose paper The Daily Squint won the primary award, was equally quick to draw comparisons with Fleet Street. "It was roughly the same as being a professional journalist," she said. "Though obviously they wouldn't be wearing school uniform."

And there were also moments of typical journalistic preciousness. Kim's Squint colleague, 11-year-old Luke Hobbs, said: "If you write something, you think it's all good. So it's stressful when you have to cut articles.

Why can't they just make the paper bigger?"

The winning primary, secondary and website entries received a personal computer. Other winning entries were presented with a digital camera, and the best feature writers received a pound;25 book token each.

But Sian Collins, head of sixth-form at St Paul's girls', in west London, which produced the winning secondary entry, believes that the greatest satisfaction came from having survived a stressful situation with no insults hurled or punches thrown.

"They learned to make decisions quickly, and change those decisions as things developed," she said.

"They dealt with problems that cropped up and kept a cool head. These are skills that are important in the real world."

This year 670 schools took part in the competition with entries coming from every continent. Gymnasium Ulricianum Aurich, a German school was one of the 19 schools that were awarded distinction certificates by BBC Newsround reporter Lizo Mzimba, who was on the editorial board of his school newspaper.

The formal surroundings of the House of Commons' Churchill room proved too much for Katie Healey, of Woodlands infants, Tonbridge, Kent. The four-year-old flattened herself on her chair and refused to collect her prize for the best newspaper produced by key stage 1 pupils.

* adi.bloom@tes.co.uk

WHO WON THE NEWS DAY?

Primary winner: Yarm primary, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees

Secondary winner: St Paul's girls' school, Hammersmith, London

Key stage1 winner (paper): Woodlands infants, Tonbridge, Kent

KS2 winner: Yarm primary, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees

KS3 winner: Northgate high, Ipswich

KS4 winner: Monks Dyke community college, Louth, Lincolnshire

KS5 winner: St Paul's Girls' school, Hammersmith, London

Best first-time entry: St Martin's school, Northwood, Middlesex

Best use of modern foreign languages: George Spencer school, Nottingham

Best international entry: Gymnasium Ulricianum Aurich, Aurich, Germany

Best feature article: Laura Connell - St Paul's girls' school, Hammersmith, London;

Camilla Temple - St Paul's girls' school, Hammersmith, London

Best website: Hills Road sixth-form college, Cambridge

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