Free four-day summer school for budding journalists is launched in the North East thanks to partnership with the NCTJ and Darlington College

A free four-day summer school for teenagers to get an exclusive taste of storytelling skills and journalism careers is being launched by Darlington College and the NCTJ.

The fully-funded programme, which will take place from 10 to 13 July at the college, aims to break down the barriers that stop under-represented young people from entering the journalism industry thanks to a major investment in outreach work by the NCTJ.

The limited spaces on the summer school, which runs from 10am to 4pm each day, are for 14 to 18-year-olds based in the North East who want to gain unique access to industry guest speakers and learn cutting-edge video and digital skills.

The programme will feature two news days to produce compelling multimedia content as well as talks from editors and journalists including Gavin Foster, the editor of the Northern Echo, and Issy Makepeace, who is studying at Darlington College and has already secured a paid placement with BBC Tees.

Attendees will also have the chance to work towards the NCTJ’s Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism qualification with delivery of two of the qualification’s modules included in the course.

A trip to a newsroom is also planned to take place for summer school attendees in October half term.

Paula Willis, curriculum manager at Darlington College, said: “We are delighted to be delivering this opportunity for budding journalists from the North East region. The outreach project is a great opportunity to identify talent and prepare them for a career in this field.”

The launch of the summer school at Darlington College forms the start of an ambitious project by the NCTJ to help address the problem of social diversity and mobility in journalism, as revealed in the NCTJ’s Diversity in Journalism report.

The latest report, authored by Mark Spilsbury, continues to find ongoing issues with social class with 73 per cent of journalists coming from the highest social classes compared to 44 per cent of the general workforce.

Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, said: “NCTJ research shows that the journalism industry remains dominated by people from relatively advantaged backgrounds.

“This outreach project will provide opportunities for less privileged youngsters to see that journalism can be for them too, and we’re delighted that the first pilot programme is shortly to get underway at Darlington College.

“We’re looking forward to seeing participants develop their skills and hopefully using this chance as a springboard to further training and a career.”

As well as the summer school at Darlington College, the NCTJ will also initially work with City of Liverpool College, Glasgow Clyde College and North West Regional College to target 14 to 18-year-olds and encourage those from disadvantaged backgrounds and lower social economic groups to enter journalism.

Each college has proposed and designed inspiring and engaging programmes to show that there is another way into journalism other than university and how journalism can be fun, varied, creative, challenging and, most of all, how it can offer them a viable career.

Each programme will include the delivery of a unit from the NCTJ’s Certificate in Foundation Journalism qualification, engagement from a guest speaker and a group project, such as a news day or creating a Tik Tok video.

The programme at City of Liverpool College will target Year 12 and 13 students across the city and will feature four afternoon sessions on Wednesdays in October, starting on 4 October.

North West Regional College’s after-school programme is aimed at 16 to 18-year-olds and will run for eight weeks from September to November. A visit to BBC Belfast is also planned for attendees to learn about opportunities in journalism available to them.

At Glasgow Clyde College, the programme for 14 to 16-year-olds will run over three weeks in January 2024 and is set to feature a trip to Sky’s studios in Livingston.

To book your place on Darlington College’s summer school, email or or call 01325 503030.

To enquire about taking part in the outreach projects at City of Liverpool College, North West Regional College and Glasgow Clyde College, please email

Click here to read the full NCTJ Diversity in Journalism report.

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