Thursday saw the first ever Queen’s College house journalism challenge, with an all-day competition to produce the best newspaper. “Media is an area of English which was significantly marginalised by the 2015 GCSE reforms; however, a grasp of media literacy and the understanding that there is no ‘truth’ to what is read in newspapers is a vital skill for life. Alongside teaching that, the aim was to introduce pupils to another career that must thrive in the AI-driven future,” said Mrs Litton (Head of Faculty, English and Drama).
It was a rewarding day: pupils were divided into aspects of journalism that reflected scholarships (Art scholars worked on photographic journalism or graphics; Sports scholars manned the sports desk, for example) or in which we thought they would most thrive. Pupil Editors were mentored by Ken Bird, Queen’s College’s former Communications Director who joined the Somerset County Gazette in 1980 and remained with the company for more than 30 years, the final ten of which were as Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette, its sister titles and websites. Mr Bird was highly impressed by the leadership skills demonstrated by these 8 pupils. A team of News writers, Features writers and Sports writers were taught and led by the English department, feeding written copy digitally to the Editorial and Design team to turn into a publication. A group of talented chefs produced a three-course meal to be tasted by pupils and reviewed as a Feature.
After lunch, food writer for The Telegraph and Masterchef judge William Sitwell joined us, giving pupils an inspiring talk in the Queen’s Hall on careers in Journalism, taking part in a pupil interview and then mentoring the Features writers on improving their food reviews. This was an extraordinary opportunity for some of our best writers, and they responded keenly to his advice.
The race was on at 2.45pm to complete the newspapers and submit them for judging: this relied on teamwork from all involved, and great leadership from the pupil Editors, and all rose to the challenge, submitting their final newspapers which all looked very professional.
The judges – William Sitwell, Ken Bird and Thomas Cock, Deputy Managing Editor of Somerset Live, along with Mr Mann and Mrs Litton – judged the newspapers on five categories: leadership, written content, overall layout, range of content, and the ‘Scoop Factor’. The runner-up was Barnicott, with the overall winners being Ray, who took the trophy. Individual book prizes were awarded to Freya for her leadership skills, and Ellen for the quality of her writing.
The day was a great success, and we hope to make this challenge a biennial event.
Read the pupil’s newspapers below: