Budding journalists from Excelsior Academy were VIP guests this week at a BBC keynote speech by Hollywood star and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, broadcast live to millions across the globe.
The six students were in a specially invited audience at BBC Broadcasting House in London to hear her talk about the global refugee crisis.
The speech was broadcast live across BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and BBC World News as part of a special day of programming examining how migration is changing the world we live in.
Excelsior’s cub reporters were invited to the ‘World on the Move’ event after impressing producers with their BBC News School Report feature earlier this year about the ethnic and cultural diversity of life at school.
Year 7 pupils Joe Mather, Courtney Wilson, Arron Cowie Thompson, Gaby Petrovic, Konrad Papp and Pallavi Ram worked with BBC Newcastle broadcast journalist Emma Wass to produce their reports as part of the BBC News School Report project (www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport).
They travelled to BBC Broadcasting House in London on Monday with English teacher Natalie Bryce to listen to Angelina Jolie’s keynote speech.
The Excelsior party met Today programme presenter and host Mishal Husain following the speech and had the opportunity to tour BBC Broadcasting House where the corporation’s news output is produced.
Angelina Jolie told the BBC: “The debate on the refugee crisis is often polarised and based on fear and misconceptions.
“We need to have a rational discussion that focuses on how we strengthen the systems designed to protect those fleeing war and persecution, while understanding and taking into account the concerns of citizens in host countries.
“Above all, we need to address the conflict and insecurity that are the root causes of the mass movement of refugees.”
The BBC and UNHCR were keen to invite young people into the audience to hear the Hollywood star speak.
Josie Verghese, BBC News School Report Producer, said: “I contacted Excelsior Academy particularly given the powerful audio feature some of their reporting team produced relating to the diversity of the school and reflecting some of their experiences and insights.
“This reporting by Excelsior students is a great example of young people responding in their own way to a story in the wider news agenda, like migration, and given this we extended an invite to some of the reporting team and interviewees.”
Arron, 12, said: “It’s really a privilege to be able to go to the BBC and with London being the capital as well it is so prestigious and rewarding.
“We were a bit nervous and excited with Angelina Jolie being there.”
Natalie said: “The pupils were thrilled and so excited to see their journalism recognised in such a way.
“To be in the audience at BBC Broadcasting House listening to Angelina Jolie speak in such a passionate and thoughtful way is something none of us will forget.”