Way back around Christmas last year, some Year 5 girls asked if they could start a pupil newsletter. They’d seen some of the stuff we’d been trying in school and wanted to know if I could help them. Of course I could, I don’t know how to say no…

So I gave them the choice.

  1. I lead it and give them jobs to do
  2. They lead it and they come to me when they need help
They chose the latter and I stepped back and let them lead the way. I asked if they wanted it to be blog-based, but they didn’t, they thought it was important for it to be paper and that people could have something tangible in their hand. I totally agreed.
I spoke to Andrea Carr at Rising Stars regarding sponsorship for printing costs and she was fantastic in helping us to get it started. We soon found after one version of the printed letter that it wasn’t going to work without the full backing of others within school and a lot of money for printing costs! So we ploughed on making it monthly but we embedded the newsletter into a new FYF blog instead (http://stjohnsblogs.co.uk/fingertips).
The girls’ biggest problems were that they seemed to focus on news about them rather than the whole school and we also had some Year 6 children who, rather than help out, wanted to launch a rival version. So I kept it ticking along until later in the year when the Year 6s lost interest (and I gave them other jobs to do!).
We moved from Publisher to Google Docs and they kept plugging away with it but they seemed more obsessed with adding cute animals and pictures rather than news. So we needed a re-think.
This co-incided with the new term and I gave the girls an ultimatum. They could get serious about making something useful and fun or we’ll cancel it and I’ll get an extra lunchtime each week back. They decided they were being serious. The new batch of digital leaders were eager to help rather than hinder and we moved FYF (pronounced ‘fyf’) onto Google Sites. This meant that we could put it on our main Cloud/Google page each week and the children could link to previous issues too. We can also embed objects so the main content will be a video/song/game/wordsearch of the week. We have already planned special editions such as Halloween and Guy Fawkes.
We have also used Google Docs to start collecting games and videos etc for future issues so that we are prepared well in advance. As the weeks go on, the children will do all of the maintenance, they already embed everything themselves but I help them link it on our site.  Within a few weeks they will do all of this. They will also ensure that others are trained before Easter (providing the rest of the school like it!)
So, please do check out the first edition. If you have any comments for the girls then their blog link is above. If you have a comment for me, my comment box is below. Easy-peasy 🙂