Sanders School nurturing next crop of journalists with weekly workshop

Sanders School

Students at Sanders School in Hornchurch have been enjoying weekly journalism workshops, thanks to an idea brought to life by Assistant Headteacher Rav Sharma. - Credit: Sanders School

A school in Hornchurch is going the extra mile during lockdown by running a workshop for its budding reporters.

Led by former journalist Tom Barnes, students at Sanders School attend a virtual session each week to learn about an aspect of the industry.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the third session on Monday, where I met a group who could be the next crop of Romford Recorder journalists.

A total of 12 students - aged 11-13 - attended the session, co-ordinated by assistant headteacher Rav Sharma who brought the idea to life. 

Sanders School

Students attending this week's journalism workshop at Sanders School. - Credit: Sanders School

As all good teachers do, Tom began by making sure students had done the homework from the previous week. The exercise - centred on fact checking - asked students to find out the number of new coronavirus cases recorded in Havering during the previous week. 

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Year 8 student Daniel Barnes immediately gave the correct answer, demonstrating the confidence and skill the initiative is designed to develop.

Unafraid to challenge an inquisitive group, Tom quizzed students on tricky topics such as sources of information, with the answers given reflective of a talented group.

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Tom finished the session by setting homework, with students asked to interview someone from their support bubble for next week. 

After the official session ended, students put those freshly-acquired skills to the test by grilling me on life at the paper. 

With questions ranging from "are you happy you chose to be a journalist?" to "are people ever rude to you when you interview them?", it's clear these students already have the knack.

After the session, Ms Sharma explained what inspired the idea: "At Sanders we really believe learning extends beyond the classroom and it's opportunities like this that create our memories and help us grow.

"In light of the fact schools are not able to offer their normal in-school extra curricular, this is part of our wider curriculum provision as we look to develop the whole child.

"With everything going on in the world and knowing the curiosity students possess, we wanted to create a platform that allows them to share their feelings, become better orators, writers, readers, and researchers - a platform where they can question the world they live in and look to make a difference."

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