Before the students could start filming there was a lot of preperation to do. In February, they carried out an investigation into mental health at The Grange and challenged a group of GCSE students to take part in different activities to improve their mental health through reducing stress levels. The student groups were asked to undertake either ten minutes of mindfulness each day, walk outdoors for at least ten minutes each day or avoid ‘screen time’ for two hours before bedtime each night. The final group made no changes and acted as a control group against which the reporters could judge their results. Our reporters measured the stress level indicated by a psychologist-recommended questionnaire before and after the fortnight’s challenge and this formed the basis of their report.
On the day of filming, 16th March, the student team arrived bright and early to set up their newsroom with a green screen, ipads and well-rehearsed scripts. Jodie Sale and Charlotte Lloyd moved straight to the front of school to interview students about their experience of stress, whilst Miranda Nosziewicz and Kate Murphy swiftly got to grips with special software to place Kate at a BBC news desk, ready to deliver the headlines. From there, the team carefully scheduled their day around editing and filming, taking turns in front of the camera. Footage of lessons, an interview with Mrs Leonard about the range of support on offer at The Grange and a review of the results of the mental health challenge were all edited into the eight-minute report, along with a prestigious interview with the government’s ex-mental health tsar, Natasha Devon. Ms Devon later said it “was such a treat to be grilled by pupils” and praised the final report in a tweet sharing the link.
Ms McKeown and Ms Hughes who coordinated the day for the reporter teams were impressed by the enthusiasm and independence demonstrated by the team throughout the day, even in the face of unexpected delays. Ms McKeown praised their determination, team-spirit and problem-solving, whilst Ms Hughes drew on her experience in production at the BBC, to help the team work on developing professionalism and how to operate as a journalist.