Students Scoop Free Four Day Journalism Summer School with Darlington College and NCTJ

BUDDING newshounds saw their preconceptions of journalism go up in smoke after tackling the issue of vaping at a summer school aimed at the next generation of reporters.

The free four-day pilot project was staged at Darlington College thanks to a partnership with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Teenagers from as far away as Hull signed up for the multi-media course while others came from Colburn, near Richmond, and two of Darlington’s secondary schools, Wyvern and Hummersknott Academies.

Darlington College has long been an NCTJ centre training some of the world’s best journalists. It currently offers a variety of courses including apprenticeships and levels up to a master’s degree level.

The news industry is currently adapting to fast-changing technologies which are steering young people away from traditional news sources, such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio, in favour of digital platforms.

Darlington College programme leader Sue Calvert said: “We started with an in depth look at how young people find their news and whether it is trustworthy. They then tackled the issue of vaping among young people using multi-media tools, such as words, pictures and video, to produce a news package on the subject.”

The NCTJ’s head of partnerships and projects Will Gore attended the session. He said: “The aim is to try and encourage people to think about journalism at a younger age and appreciate it is a viable and varied career path.

Journalism Summer School Students in classroom with Suzannah Rogerson from Channel 4 News answering questions via live video link.
Guest Speaker Suzannah Rogerson from Channel 4 News engaging with Journalism Summer School Students via live video link.

“Journalism embodies a host of different skills that can be applied to many areas not just traditional media and is incredibly diverse. We want to make sure that anyone interested can get involved and have fun.”

For Hummersknott Academy schoolgirl Mena Alazzawi the session proved to be enlightening. “To be honest, I only came along to keep my friend company as I’m hoping to go into medicine,” she said.

“I thought reporting was just an office job but now appreciate how interesting it can be and am thinking that I might one day go into medical journalism, working for the BMJ.”

Tom Greenwood travelled from Hull to attend the course. “I watched a documentary about sex offender Jeffrey Epstein but could not believe how his death in prison didn’t seem to be investigated properly. That made me determined to be an investigative journalist one day.”

The Darlington College summer school was one of just four in the country for 14 to 18-year-olds. Others include City of Liverpool College, Glasgow Clyde College and North West Regional College.

Students gained unique access to industry guest speakers including the editor of The Northern Echo Gavin Foster, Issy Makepeace, who is studying at Darlington College and has already secured a paid placement with BBC Tees, and freelance journalist Ian Lamming. The students also heard from The News Movement reporter Emma Middleton on engaging young people in news.

On their final day students were given an insight into careers at Channel 4.

During the Summer School they learned storytelling techniques, cutting-edge video, and digital skills and were also given the chance to work towards the NCTJ’s Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism qualification with the delivery of two of the qualification’s modules included in the course.

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit, contact Sue at or call (01325) 503030.

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