Community Features

City Uni teaches kids the news

The Department of Journalism’s TV studio at City, Uni­versity of London in St John Street is training young journalists from Isling­ton schools. EC1 Echo finds out more..

A group of primary school children and a teacher, with a video camera
A News Club at St Andrew’s School, Barnsbury

The Department of Journalism’s TV studio at City, Uni­versity of London in St John Street is training young journalists from Isling­ton schools. Dozens of pupils from schools including St Luke’s C of E Primary School in Radnor Street, EC1 have participated in the scheme, called The News Clubs.

The clubs were formed as part of City’s outreach programme which aims at widening par­ticipation to higher education. They have been led by City’s Emeritus Professor Lis Howell, a journalist who has worked for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News and who was Head of Broadcasting at the university. They began in 2019 but were scaled up this year, following the pandemic and see the schoolchildren sourcing news stories from their localities, including teacher strikes, school closures and a netball team that attracted boys as well as girls. As Howell says, “The children in the News Clubs are doing seri­ous news. We’re teaching them to be neutral and to find good stories. We’ve loved introduc­ing them to the wider world of politics and business and sport.”

Says Ben Copsey, City’s Wid­ening Participation Manager, “It gives them a real hands-on taste of what broadcast journal­ism is like and it’s very different than going and talking about a career theoretically.”

City also works with schools to deliver primary tutoring and other outreach work and Copsey is working with Hugh Myddelton School.

“It’s a key part of our primary school outreach and includes a visit to our campus to show them what university has to offer, as well as offering science support and English and maths tutoring.”

“The idea is to help pupils start their journey towards higher education and work with young people who might not otherwise think about university and who are underrepresented in higher education: particularly those receiving free school meals, young carers, young people with experience of local authority care and refugee and asylum seekers and those with high levels of child poverty.”

“This year we’ve trialled a girls’ confidence programme at Hugh Myddelton where we were talking about strength, resilience about self-image and self-confidence and boosting those skills in the transition to secondary school.”

City University of London has long been a business-oriented university and this continues. “We are a university of busi­ness, business practice and the professions,” says Copsey. “So we exist to enable people from whatever background or walk of life to access business and we’re here for the local community as well as students who come here from around the world. We have a duty of care towards our Isling­ton community and we often say, ‘If you don’t see it, you struggle to be it’. Widening participation is a goal – and bringing school­children into the TV studio is one way to offer them the oppor­tunity to imagine where their life journey might take them.”

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