HUNDREDS of students are getting the chance to try their hand at journalism this term thanks to a unique project described by schools as "brilliant", "excellent" and "amazing".
The Young Reporter scheme, run by this newspaper and sister titles, works in partnership with secondary schools to give their pupils the opportunity to publish articles and pictures on our website.
The number of students taking part in the scheme has shot up this year, with more than 600 students participating at 70 schools ranging from north Kent right across to Surrey.
Pressure for work experience places in newsrooms from graduates trying to get into the profession has made it all but impossible for those still at school to get a taste of life as a reporter.
But this scheme gives them the chance to do this, from researching stories to writing and uploading articles that will be read by thousands on our website.
The variety of subjects they have covered is huge, from car crashes and muggings to sports and arts events, fashion, game reviews and campaigns to free prisoners.
Diana Jarvis, who co-ordinates the scheme said: "It has been a fantastic start to the Young Reporter of the Year scheme for 2011/12. So far some really fascinating articles and great photographs have been uploaded by the students.
"We are delighted so many schools signed up for this unique opportunity, which allows students to try their hand at journalism working alongside professionals."
Bexley Grammar School has around 20 pupils taking part in the scheme this year.
Young Reporters from Bexley Grammar School, Caitlin Holmes, 14, Adam Bligh-Hasan, 16, Ryan Bulling, 17, Fay Watson, 17, Olivia Smith, 14, Taranpreet Bhoday, 14, and Thulasi Srikanth, 14 with teacher Laura Peters.
Last year, year 12 student Kathryn Clark was the overall winner in the Young Reporter Awards for her first person piece, Skinny girl in a fat world.
Laura Peters, English and media teacher at Bexley Grammar School said: "The scheme is really good and it has a wide appeal across the school.
"Last year it was only opened up to the sixth form but we’ve opened it up to years 10 and 11 and it has had a great take-up.
"The whole world can see what the kids have written about and they get a thrill out of that. They are engaged and excited about the whole project."
The very best articles and photographs over the coming months will be entered for the Young Reporter Awards 2012, sponsored by Roehampton University, giving finalists the chance to win great prizes and gain recognition for their work.
Christina Paish, who won the year 10 and 11 prize for photography this year, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the scheme. It helped me to develop not only my writing and photography skills but I also learned lots about my community that I hadn’t previously known."
All the students completing the scheme get a certificate recognising their achievements which can help get them a place at college.