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19th May 2006 at 01:00
Geoff Barton finds a newspaper for students a good read

THE NEWSPAPER pound;75, plus pound;12 postage and packing, for 32 copies, six times a year www.thenewspaper.org.uk

As a newspaper addict, none of the flashiness of internet news feeds, tickers, text updates or podcasts (all of which I also love) has dented my physical enjoyment of regularly reading a newspaper. On holiday, to the irritation of my family, I'll quite happily sit for an hour beside the pool reading a paper full of stale news and slipping into irrelevance.

So, of course, like many teachers, I want the current generation of pupils to get the newspaper bug, too. Here's a very good idea for how to do so.

The Newspaper ("Today's readers. Tomorrow's leaders") is published six times a year, once each half term. It's available in class sets so, during a citizenship or English lesson, you could legitimately all sit back and read the paper.

While firmly aimed at pupils, The Newspaper has many of the features we expect of grown-up newspapers. The JanuaryFebruary issue, for example, leads with research into the murky world of text-message bullying. There's a polemic on the fur trade; an analysis one year on from the Boxing Day tsunami; features on the young stars of Nanny McPhee and the winner of The X Factor, as well as quizzes and puzzles.

Its target audience is perhaps top of key stage 2 and the lower end of KS3.

It manages to stay this side of worthiness by using a lively design and enough references to popular culture to give it credibility. What I liked most was its determination to show that issues such as global warming and animal rights are absolutely the stuff that young people should be (and usually are) passionate about.

I had some reservations, too. The Newspaper sometimes comes packaged in marketing material (the MarchApril edition is promoting the film Ice Age 2). It means that you don't get the immediate impact of a newspaper splash, in this case about child poverty. However, bearing in mind that media heavyweights like The Times and The Independent have produced junior editions that subsequently folded, promotional material for decent products (films and books) is a small price to pay if it helps the project to keep going.

So thumbs-up to The Newspaper. With six editions a year it isn't going to ignite a passion for reading a daily paper that makes contemporary life feel richer, but if it strengthens pupils' interest in relevant global issues, without patronising them, then long may its presses roll.

Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI School, Suffolk

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