Reinventing the school newspaper for the digital generation
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Young people need the skills and ability to produce high-quality products in any media. Improving Digital Literacy (the ability to use real-world tools, both hardware and software, to communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and accomplish tasks) is a priority especially for young people aged 8-18 and those from socio-economic groups C2DE.


18759053_sYoung people live in a media-rich and social environment.  Student journalism is an ideal way of teaching them both the skills and awareness to flourish in this new world.

Students can produce and display video, learn how to take their own photographs, and use Creative Commons content and tools like Storify to integrate social media into their stories.

ScoopStar ensures students are kept up-to-date with the latest tools  and techniques, which they can use to bring their stories alive.

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Student journalism is an ideal vehicle for developing young people's workplace skills.  This is particularly important as the requirement for work experience has been removed from the national curriculum whilst at the same time a CBI Survey found that 70% of employers want to see employability skills being taught at school.

“What matters most in a child's development, they say, is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years.  What matters instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence.”

Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

      1. Communication: Student journalists have to develop excellent written and presentation skills but they also have to be able to interview people, listen carefully and communicate with their team.  They learn to be clear, concise, and focused, and to tailor their message to their audience.
      2. Research skills: Researching and producing stories prepares students for the kind of rigorous research, analysis and writing expected at university and in employment.
      3. Teamwork: Students have to work as a member of a team taking on responsibility, and supporting and managing others.
      4. Leadership: Editors have to show leadership assigning stories, delegating tasks, setting deadlines, feeding back and motivating the team. All news team members will have leadership opportunities.
      5. Organisation and time management: Student journalists and editors have to prioritise and work efficiently to get their stories out to a deadline.  They have be able to plan ahead recognising when academic pressures are going to be at their most intense and make arrangements.  They have to keep accurate notes.
      6. Critical Thinking: Student journalism fosters critical thinking skills, helping students think more deeply and clearly about content, especially when that content is challenging.  It gives them practice in the skills of sequencing, logic, and constructing a persuasive argument.
      7. Confidence: As journalists, they have to interact with school management and other adults.  They have to make phone calls to people they don’t know and ask them for information or favours.
      8. Creativity and Problem solving: Keeping the newspaper fresh and interesting requires students to approach stories from new and creative angles.  They have to be able to take a logical and analytical approach to solving problems and resolving issues.
      9. Perseverance and motivation: Getting the story, interviews, quotes and detailed research involves a lot of hard work and perseverance.  The best journalists are those that keep going.
      10. Ability to work under pressure: Good journalists work well under pressure.  Student journalists learn to keep calm in a crisis and not become overwhelmed or stressed when something goes wrong.
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The use of newspapers in the classroom results in an increase in students' reading interest, reading attitudes, reading achievement, writing performance, comprehension, classroom verbal interactions, and an increase of reading in adulthood. It is through connecting the curriculum with the real world that children become engaged and inspired, and we can deepen their learning, foment creativity, and most importantly of all, open their minds.

insert CBI QUOTE

Research shows clearly that student motivation and achievement is significantly increased by meaningfully connecting school to the real world.

Stanford University

The Scottish Network for Able Pupils based at Glasgow University recommends setting up a regular school newspaper as one of their tried and tested methods for developing gifted young people.  They write that setting up a regular school newspaper is, "A way of supporting individual children with particular abilities, while also offering opportunities to others to develop their strengths, is through whole school activities such as a regular school newspaper, radio or television shows, enterprise activities and charity eventsThis approach lends itself well to Curriculum for Excellence".

Engagement with school newspapers helps students:-

  • Develop Reading Comprehension - students will read about events that involve or concern them.
  • Develop Critical Analysis - students have the opportunity to evaluate multiple sources and opinions.
  • Express opinions in appropriate feedback formats.
  • Recognize forms of expression - through exposure to various good models of writing, such as news, editorial, feature.
  • Understand the role of the media in a democratic society.
  • Understand the limitations of various media.
  • Examine credibility of sources.
  • Recognize and discount reporter bias or opinion in a story.
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School newspapers provide invaluable training  and experience for students considering careers in journalism and the media.  The Student News Trust is committed to increasing the diversity of the media workforce to reflect society.

"If your business is telling stories about the society in which you work, it makes sense to ensure the people who tell the stories are representative of the society as a whole."

(Skills for Tomorrow's Media, Skillset/DCMS)

6966_6991Through working in school, ScoopStar engages with young people from all social backgrounds helping to develop their expertise and self efficacy.

Student Journalists can try a range of roles, undertake assignments, meet deadlines, earn badges and points, and develop their skills as part of the school news team.

    • Reporting — accuracy, fairness, completeness
    • Writing — precision, attribution, transition, readability, thesis, focus
    • Interviewing — back grounding, arranging, conducting, synthesizing
    • Editing — judgment, fairness, balance
    • Photography and video — depicting news through images and sound
    • Creativity
    • Graphics — using design to communicate information
    • Organization and Leadership – Communication, Collaboration and teamwork, Time management
    • Ethics, fairness and decision-making
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“Pupils in England have a low level of interest in social and political issues. ... they have a level of news media interest that is significantly below the international average.  They also have low levels of confidence in their personal efficacy – their ability to influence political issues”.

NFER’s Research "News for Schools"

Schools have always sought to develop active and engaged young citizens but it can be a real challenge when faced with constant curriculum change and exam pressure.  School newspapers can help both the producers and audience actively engage with their local and school communities.  Through understanding the process by which stories are produced, young people become more critical readers of professionally produced news and media.   

Research evidence shows that teenagers reading newspapers through school exhibit higher levels of civic engagement 10 to 15 years later.  They are also more likely to read newspapers as adults. (NAAF)

The National Foundation for Educational Research found that:-

    • Exposure to news and personal efficacy are the student-level factors most associated with attitudes and intentions concerning formal political participation; and that
    • Young people who take an interest in news and current affairs have more positive attitudes and stronger intentions to participate in formal political processes than students with less exposure to news.


NFER recommend that schools "provide more opportunities in the curriculum for students to have exposure to news and current affairs".

"The best schools do not just teach citizenship in classrooms, but help pupils become active citizens as well, by giving them opportunities to take on leadership roles in their school community.” Ofsted


Student Articles



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Becoming a reporter empowers students to find their own unique point of view and relationship to the stories they’re reporting.  It provides a link with the school management enabling them to investigate school issues.  Their stories provide a safe forum for an exchange of student opinion.  ScoopStar gives young people the skills and opportunity to make their voice heard, and counter what they perceive as the negative portrayal of themselves in mainstream media.


“Young people are portrayed as violent and lazy, and adults have a negative image, but realistically most teens are not like this.”

“Of all the young people in newspapers, TV and radio, none of them represent any of my friends, or any younger person I know.”

“The media should focus more on the majority of children who work hard at school and do achieve their potential.”

"Implementing Youth Matters, Continuing the Dialogue with Young People", DfES 


"At school an open climate of discussion and debate, and a school ethos that encourages active pupil engagement in decision-making have a positive influence on pupils’ civic outcomes." NFER



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Writing for a purpose and audience encourages students to write and to work at becoming better writers. Many students don’t think of themselves as writers or are daunted by the writing process. Writing, revising, sharing, feedback and editing stories makes this process natural and enjoyable. The editing process promotes peer revision and learning.

“We believe it is paramount that the school curriculum reflects and utilises writing forms that young people enjoy and engage with, in order to demonstrate that writing is more than a compulsory task: it is an essential life skill.” Literacy Trust – 2009

Analysis of the outcomes of the BBC's School Report initiative, which used small group collaboration as the main pedagogy, had a marked and positive impact on the quality of writing. In particular, boys and students with English as an additional language (EAL) benefited from the opportunity to discuss ideas and write succinctly and logically, as opposed to expressively.  Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

The School Report programme is once a year intervention mainly focused on careers.  The aim of Student News Trust is to make student journalism and its benefits a central part of British school life.  In America 78% of  High Schools have a newspaper and 22% of students have worked on the paper.  The research shows that

  • High school student journalists achieve higher grades and demonstrate better writing skills in college than their peers; (NAAF)



Reading ability is a well documented problem.

Most students have a reading age significantly below the level that GCSE texts are being aimed at meaning some students are not only failing to access the curriculum, but they are failing to comprehend key course and exam texts.

(Renaissance Learning 2012)

But school newspapers can help

  • More than 60% of young people with high newspaper exposure at school are regular readers as adults, compared to only 38% of those with no exposure.  (Growing Lifelong Readers NAAF 2004)
  • Students using newspapers in school perform 10-29% better in reading comprehension, vocabulary development and critical thinking as measured on standardised tests, than students who do not use newspapers in the classroom (Measuring Success, 2003).
  • that the use of newspapers in the classroom results in an increase in students' reading interest, reading attitudes, reading achievement, writing performance, comprehension, classroom verbal interactions, and an increase of reading in adulthood.                       
  • Students in schools with newspaper programmes did 10% better academically. (NAAF)
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