Enhanced learning and greater student engagement are just some of the benefits being seen at Good Shepherd Primary Plumpton thanks to an incredibly popular new student-led school newspaper, ‘The Flock’.
Welcome to ‘The Flock’ - the newspaper written by students for students at Good Shepherd Primary Plumpton.
It’s a relatively simple idea that has not only sparked amazing engagement for the entire student group but has spawned so many added benefits to the delight of teachers, parents and the students involved.
The inspiration came from Year 4 student Joanne Soliman who wrote a letter to Principal Patricia Carr expressing a desire to start a newspaper that would serve as a voice for the students and convey stories they were interested in.
"I really enjoy writing things for other people to enjoy,” explained Jo. “Children should get a chance to read something that is happening around their area.”
“I love it. I really love that it was the childrens' initiative,” said Patricia. “I'm blessed that we've got teachers here that can run with an idea like this and help develop what's been a wonderful project. I've seen the amount of students who eagerly anticipate each new edition and read them up on the wall.”
It’s been the added benefits such as enhanced learning, greater engagement, improved confidence, self empowerment that have been such a welcome bonus for all involved.
“It's helped me with my writing,” explained Jo. “How to get people's attention and how to make my writing more interesting. It also helps me talk to people more because I get to interview people that I might not normally talk to and I’m making more friends.”
"It has broadened Ethan’s vocabulary, improved his literacy and writing skills and also widened his perspective on what is happening at school,” said Paul, the father of Ethan who works on the newspaper. “It has sparked his passion for learning and piqued his curiosity and has also taught him the value of teamwork.”
“He has been a constant companion while watching the news," said Jemrica, the mother of Kevin who also works on the paper. "He's so interested in all the news and asking lots of questions regarding things that are happening in the world around him."
Many of the Good Shepherd teachers have been expressing their delight at how the newspaper has helped certain students flourish.
“Some of these students tended to be on the quiet side but working on the paper has really helped them shine,” said Lead Literacy Co-ordinator Trish Connor, who helps the students produce the newspaper along with fellow Literacy Co-ordinator Kelly Maloney. “Take Jo for example. You can see it in her stature. She's much more confident now having worked on the newspaper and it's just lovely to see.”
Unable to produce enough physical newspapers to cater for every single student, the school settled on printing a limited number which are put on display around the school. The school also distributes each edition via email so that teachers are able to read them to students.
To say the newspaper has been a hit would be an understatement. Since the first edition was published last month, the newspaper has been inundated with interest from other students wanting to be involved, not to mention the overwhelming number of submissions for ‘letters to the editor’.
“Students from around the school have been so enthusiastic about submitting comments so not only is it encouraging them to write, the communication and engagement among students around wanting to have their say has been incredible,” said Trish.
“I love that the kids want to do this sort of thing,” added Patricia. “That's community. It's also that transfer of knowledge from their learning into their every day and making things at the school special.”
Due to the popularity of the paper, ‘The Flock’ has added a number of new journalists to the fold and the paper is getting bigger and better with every issue.
“Everyone in grade three wants to join the newspaper so they can get their names up there and the fame,” said Ethan.
“Often these sorts of things start off strongly and then peter out but the fact that so many students have been keen to join has seen a new influx of writers and new ideas and that's keeping the newspaper dynamic and engaging for everyone,” said Patricia.
The newspaper team produced three editions in the final term, each one including a variety of updates on things happening at the school and in the wider community. There have also been plenty of unique stories such as comments from the new 2021 school leaders, reflections from Year 6 students who are leaving the school and even an interview with one of the teachers who is expecting a baby next year.
“It's given them an audience beyond their classroom,” said Kelly Maloney. They know they're writing for a really diverse audience with students from every age group.”
“These are kids who are quiet achievers so this is definitely a wonderful new experience and a string to their bow for most of them,” added Patricia.