Roving Reporters: Exploring students’ relationships with their local community

On the 21st November staff, students and family members from Featherstone Academy came together with Jayne Kaye from Wakefield University Centre and Laura Bareham from the University of Huddersfield to celebrate the fantastic achievements of the ‘Roving Reporters’. Signalling the end of a project that spanned over a year in total, it was fantastic to have everybody together one last time.

Roving Reporters was a project that aimed to engage students from Featherstone Academy with their local community and the people in it. The small student group began with some idea-generating workshops to decide the path they wanted their project to take, before moving on to more practical activities including an academic visit to the University of Huddersfield and a tour of Featherstone Rovers.

The students were asked from the outset to adapt the project according to their own personal strengths, and early sessions showed a wide range of interests within the group including poetry, business and journalism. As the project moved on, it was decided that the final product would be a book based on the local Featherstone community.

Armed with their own personal scrapbook, digital cameras and Dictaphones, the group embarked on a research mission, gathering information from the internet and the University of Huddersfield archives with the help of Historian Tosh Warwick. A visit was also planned to Featherstone Rovers, where Amy Hardman gave the students a thorough tour of the grounds and talked them through the history of the club. The students then hosted a Memory Sharing Afternoon Tea at Featherstone Rovers, inviting members of the public to come along, share a slice of cake and a cup of tea as well as talk about their favourite memories of Featherstone Rovers and the town itself. These interviews were recorded, and later formed the bulk of the content of the finished book. The students also had the opportunity to attend a Featherstone Rovers home game, where more memories were gathered from match-goers.

To bring the project to a close in the celebratory fashion it deserved, Outreach Officers Laura and Jayne organised a celebration event at Wakefield College. Go Higher West Yorkshire’s head of NCOP Alice Taylor came along to speak and present the students with certificates, and the moment came where the finished book, ‘Roving Reporters, Featherstone: The Past, The Present and The Future’, was finally unveiled. Students and their family members were thrilled with the outcome, which would not have been possible without the fantastic design skills of Leeds Beckett University’s Tom Senior. After spending some time looking at the fruits of their labour, it was time to treat the students, families and staff to a slap-up Christmas meal at Wakefield College’s student-run Gaskell’s restaurant.

Laura Bareham, Outreach Officer at the University of Huddersfield, said, “It was an absolute privilege to work with these students throughout this project. Jayne and I feel like we’ve really got to know them, and we will miss seeing them regularly! They have made us feel so at home in Featherstone, and we’re really grateful for, and proud of, all of the hard work they have put in.”

Copies of ‘Roving Reporters, Featherstone: The Past, The Present and The Future’ will be distributed throughout the local area.