Today's newspaper, as everyone knows, is tomorrow's chip wrapper - unless, that is, it's one of the 600 or so titles entered for the annual TES Newsday competition. Open to all age groups - the various key stages are judged separately - pupils have to produce a newspaper or news website in a single day.
It must contain features, interviews, reviews, sport, advertisements and the other elements you'd expect in a newspaper - including coverage of the day's big events. Pupils have to keep track of internet newsfeeds, racing to write and rewrite their copy as the breaking stories unfold. That's challenging enough - but especially so when there's a deadline to meet.
"The day itself was highly charged and incredibly exciting, and, in retrospect, great fun," says Camilla Temple (17), joint editor of The Marble, which won the prize for secondary schools in Newsday 05. Produced at St Paul's Girls School (SPGS) in London, it's available as a PDF file at spgs.org. Browse through it - or through the winning website created by Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge (hillsroad.ac.uknewsday) - and you'll be awed by what can be created.
ICT is essential - but it doesn't have to be very high-tech. Every year Newsday's legions of young journos manage minor miracles using nothing more sophisticated than a few PCs, Word, a scanner, a cheap digital camera and a printer. Colour makes a crucial difference and doesn't have to be expensive. Mary Drever, education account manager at Epson, which is sharing the sponsorship of the competition this year, says: " With the Epson AcuLaser C2600N, colour printing costs as little as 7 pence per page, so it really is affordable for a school to be using on a daily basis."
Ultimately, it isn't the technology that matters. Brian Robinson, the driving force behind Newsday since its inception, says: "What the judges are looking for is enthusiasm and passion. You can recognise when pupils really care about their newspaper."
It's that obvious delight in their work that won The Daily Blink the prize for the best primary school entry in Newsday 05. Produced by pupils at Yarm Primary in Stockton-on-Tees, it's the result, not of a few hours frantic effort, but months of preparation, getting the bulk of the paper written and planned in readiness for the big day. Diane Cox, who has been running Newsdays at the school for eight years, says: "Pupils in Years 5 and 6 write a letter of application to be in the team. We end up with 20 to 25 children who work on the newspaper in their lunchtimes for weeks beforehand." But the newspaper also offers the rest of the school an audience for their writing. During the literacy hour, they write articles and letters to the editor. "We don't leave things to the last minute.
Pupils do something every week, so on the day we've got plenty to choose from."
Although some groups produce a whole paper from scratch in a day, the more pre-planning the better, says Janet Simner, an e-learning consultant in Nottingham with long experience of the event, and a Newsday judge.
"Children need to decide beforehand the overall style, the number of columns, the overall look. They can create templates for the individual pages so on the day they'll know where everything goes."
In many schools, newspaper production isn't limited to the English classroom. It provides a stimulus for work in science, RE, history or - a particular favourite on Newsday - MFL, with more than 40 UK entries in 2005 written in a language other than English.
The overwhelming educational benefit of Newsday is the day itself. "Every pupil takes something away. They learn to work as a team, to co-operate, meet deadlines, accept responsibility - and to accept the decisions of other children," says Janet Simner. The result is the sense of a difficult job well done and a newspaper in which the whole school can take pride.
Simner adds: "Milford Primary School in Nottingham has had the pages laminated and manufactured into a book for visitors to read." Try wrapping chips in that.
Schools can choose to enter a newspaper or news website on any day between January 30 and February 3, or between March 13 and 17, 2006
There are prizes for the best entries at each key stage with special prizes for photo-journalism, feature writing, best international entry and best first entry.
Prizes include four Epson AcuLaser C2600 laser printers, one R1800 photo printer, one EMP-S3 projector and 10 RX420 all-in-one photo printers.
Schools must pre-register at www.newsday.co.uk. They will then receive a CD-Rom packed with advice and guidelines.
TES and Newsday at BETT 2006 Stand E20
This highly successful and rewarding competition will once again feature on The TES stand at BETT 2006. Visitors will have the opportunity to talk to TES staff about entering the competition and pick up a free copy of the Newsday CD resource, which contains guidance notes on how to create a newspaper or website and examples of previous Newsday winners. In addition, you'll be able to log on to the Newsday website using available equipment and see how it complements the CD-Rom.
While each school or college may have different ideas about how they intend to use TES Newsday, the common goal is to provide teachers with a useful classroom resource they can use both for the competition, and independently of the competition, which meets the writing targets of the national curriculum and national literacy strategy.
For students there is the chance to write for a real audience.