A drugs bust, a question and answer session with the deputy prime minister and a face-to-face interview with a death-row lawyer.
These are just some of the stories teenaged trainees have covered at Up To Speed this year within a few months of taking their A Levels.
They have all chosen to take a Fast-Track journalism course leading to the coveted Certificate in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
Two of Up To Speed’s students had a little extra pressure this year, because they were following in their mother’s footsteps.
Becca Parlby, 19, spent the first half of her year back-packing around the world and joined the course in February. She’s taking up a place to read Spanish and Italian at the University of Manchester in October.
“My Mum worked as a journalist and she took the same NCTJ exams and so I had quite a bit to live up to,” said Becca, who completed a work placement on her local newspaper in Plymouth as part of the course.
“My editor there just kept saying that it was a brilliant idea to qualify before going to university,” said Becca.
Another daughter of a former national newspaper journalist took after her own back-packing adventures in South-East Asia and South America.
India Fearnley’s Mum Kimm’s first journalism job was at the Daily Echo in Bournemouth where Up To Speed is now based.
“It was quite strange for me coming back to the newspaper where my Mum worked, but I really enjoyed the course and being taught politics by one of Mum’s former colleagues, the Echo’s news editor Andy Martin,” said India.
India has decided against going to university and is planning to use her journalism qualification, and her recently acquired TEFL experience, to travel, write and teach.
For the first time this September, the Fast-Track courses at Up To Speed allow students to specialise in magazine journalism, sports reporting or news. The students will also take core subjects in Public Affairs(politics), Law, Shorthand and Reporting.
The political and legal aspects of the course can turn a Gap Year into a Bridging Year, giving students an excellent grounding in these key disciplines before university.
Abbas Akbar, 19, joined Up To Speed from a sixth form college in Birmingham. He is reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Exeter University in October where he hopes to use his qualifications to make an impact on campus journalism. It was Abbas who tracked down the renowned human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith for an interview in West Dorset and who also appeared on the BBC’s Question Time while he was on the course.
Zoe Wareham’s scoop came when her father made a citizen’s arrest of a drugs gang member late one evening, Her story appeared in the Daily Echo the next day. However, her study of Media Law on the course inspired Zoe to take a change of direction. She will now be studying Law at university rather than English with journalism.
Up To Speed’s courses start on September 6th and there are still some spaces available. Call 07590 997063 to find out more.