Pupils' paper carries scoop about palace;English

17th September 1999 at 01:00
Royal watchers start young at a London primary, Victoria Neumark finds.

We went to Buckingham Palace and we found out lots of different things about the Queen. And they had really posh glasses. And the toilets were great. Mrs Patel said we should do a review about the toilets." George, aged 10, is an enthusiastic contributor to the school newspaper at Oaklands primary school in Hanwell, west London.

Launched a year ago, with a reception of squash and biscuits, the 10p Oaklands World keeps all 400 children, staff and parents in touch with each other. headteacher Rachel Latham-Ward says: "It really does open up our school and our world."

Parent Shanti Patel got the idea after hearing about the literacy strategy. "I wanted everyone to learn about everyone in the school," she says.

With a vibrant mix of cultures, sponsorship from local company, Transworld, competitions and features such as the Buckingham Palace visit, the chance to interview Mr Blobby, the Body Shop and, soon, education secretary David Blunkett, small wonder that Oaklands World sells out as soon as it appears.

But it's not just a high-profile, immaculately produced composition. "The whole ethos," explains Mrs Patel, "is to include everyone."

The paper is published four times per term, and hardly any contributor is used twice, except on the jokes page. Mrs Patel keeps an ear open at home-time for gossip - like the child who has appeared on Blue Peter or who has just got three new nephews - which might make good copy. It all adds up to a touching melange of eulogies to family ("My sister is kind because every time she comes out of nursery she hugs me"), accounts of school fetes, trips and football matches - and reports from the big wide world.

Members of the editorial team are unanimous. Charlotte, aged 11, says: "You get to see all the variety in the school and you get to see what your work looks like." Georgina (10) adds: "It's really good for everyone to learn what's going on." George sums up: "You've got to keep asking questions, then you find out more and more."

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