Reflection on specialist feature story

The feature I wrote was a specialism piece in education.

I came up with this idea after seeing a few stories in the national press about children being disciplined for their hairstyles.

It seemed to me like this was happening more frequently and when I discussed it with a few of people I know (who are my sources and relatives of sources), they shared some anecdotes with me about times when it has happened to children they know.

My primary sources in the feature are Emma Sparke and Sarah Wilkinson.

Emma Sparke is Chelsea’s sister. Chelsea told me her nephew had got in trouble a few times at school for his hairstyles and she gave me Emma’s phone number to conduct a telephone interview with her.

Sarah Wilkinson is my mum’s friend who is a teaching assistant at Dorchester Primary school. Before her current job she worked at Winifred Holtby Academy and so I thought it would be good to ask her if she’s witnessed any children get into trouble and to ask for her opinions. For this interview I rang her as well.

My secondary sources are news stories from the Independent and the Sun, which sparked my idea for the feature. Plus, I have included a statement Northern Irelands children’s commissioner made about the matter for authority.

I also tried to get a statement from Hull Trinity House Academy, because they were spoken about negatively in my feature and I wanted a balance of opinions. However, they never got back to me.

When I first started writing the feature it had a very chatty tone to it at the beginning like it should go in the Sun, whose socio economic demographics are CD2DE and target age group is 15-34. Due to their target audience, their writing style more laid back and their content seems less serious.

However, after receiving feedback it was clear that I hadn’t stuck to having a chatty tone throughout writing the feature and after the introduction the story turns into more of a serious news piece. Due to this I changed my introduction to be more serious so the tone was consistent throughout and it all flows nicely.

Now, my feature might be more fitting for a different national newspaper like the Independent whose socio demographic is AB C1 C2. Or it may bee fitting for BBC news online because of the serious and more formal tone.


Reflection on specialist news story

The specialism of my news story is music and the story is about a big band coming to Hull.

I came across this story because the person who organised the gig asked me to review it for him before it was even announced, and so it seemed like it was going to be quite a big and popular event.

I have written this story as if it would be published in a local music magazine such as Browse Magazine, or in Hull Daily Mail in the What’s Happening section, as it is all about the band (Holding Absence) coming to Hull.

Hull Daily Mail’s socio economic demographic is C2DE, which stands for skilled manual occupations and semi-skilled and unskilled manual occupations, unemployed and lowest grade occupations. These two grading’s grouped together are the lowest socio economic grades, which means Hull Daily Mail reach out to a wide and varied audience.

Their target age is also extremely wide with their reading age starting at aged 9. So that they appeal to a wide audience their writing style aims at people aged between 9 and 32, which means their content is simple and easy to read for the local audience they circulate to.

My main source for the story is Lewis Ross, who organised the event at O’Rileys where he works. I initially contacted him on Facebook and then met up with him to conduct an interview and get as much as possible out of him.

I also spoke to Darren Bunting who runs O’Rileys on Facebook, he is a very busy man and it was easier for him to just message me a response.

Plus I included one of the bands, To the Strongest, as a secondary source by quoting what they said about the show on Facebook. 

As well as just To the Strongest’s reaction I also tried to get quotes off the other bands. However, I didn’t manage to.

To bulk the story up a bit I also tried to find some quotes off fans. However, I didn’t manage to find any that were really worth quoting.

Specialist news story 

Holding Absence set to play in Hull

An up and coming metal band from Cardiff, who have had their song played on BBC Radio One and are performing at Download Festival in Donington Park this year (9 – 11 June), are visiting Hull next month.

Holding Absence will be playing a show on 20 March with their touring support, Return to Rome, and three local bands at O’Rileys on Beverley Road.

Lewis Ross, who organised the event, said he wanted to bring the band back to Hull after they made an “amazing” first impression at their debut gig, at O’Rileys a few months ago.

He explained: “Since that day, everyone has spoken about them none stop.”

Mr Ross said people seem to be glad to hear that Holding Absence are returning to Hull.

He claimed: “The reaction has been amazing. So many people from Hull seem to already love the band. I know quite a few people who are massive fans of Holding Absence, and they have spent ridiculous amounts of money on their merchandise and have even got their moth logo tattooed on them.”

Due to the vast amount of people who claimed they want to see Holding Absence in Hull again, Mr Ross said he’s hoping at least 100 people turn up.

The three supporting acts from Hull are pop punk inspired band To the Strongest, alternative rock band The Escape Artist and metal band Liberatae Mae.

Lewis Ross said: “The three local supports were all picked not only on talent, as there were so many talented bands wanting to play, but also on suitability.”

On Facebook, To the Strongest said they were “stoked” to be supporting Holding Absence and that they “honestly cannot wait” for the gig.

Holding Absence, who are signed by Sharptone Records, have had their song Permanent played on Daniel P Carter Radio 1’s Rock Show. They are also going to be touring with We Are the Ocean next month.

Darren Bunting, who owns O’Rileys, said: “Holding Absence were really good last time they came to Hull and I thought it was a great idea when Lewis said he wanted to bring them back to do another show in our venue.”


Specialist feature story 

Punishment for pupils with extreme hair

Schools are being criticised for disciplining pupils who have unique hairstyles


A 15-year-old schoolboy raised £850 for Cancer Research UK by shaving all of his hair off.

Taylor Jones, from Cornwall, made all of his friends and family extremely proud of him for wanting to raise money for the charity.

Then when he turned up to his school, Launceston College, the next week he was treated as if he had done something awful. He was pulled out from class and separated from his friends because he was bald.

The boy was told he had an “extreme” haircut, which was a distraction for the other pupils and that he has to learn in isolation.

Taylor Jones’ father, Nick Jones, called the schools actions “dictatorship”. He told Cornwall Live Taylor had been growing his hair for a while and it had got “very unruly” and most people said his previous hairstyle was more extreme compared to how it is now.

Several people have commented on the Independent’s story online saying Taylor Jones’ hair isn’t extreme because some children cannot help being bald due to having alopecia and cancer treatments.

In a statement published in the Independent, Launceston College’s principle, Bryan Maywood, said: “Taylor will be provided with individual specialist tuition from experienced qualified teachers for the four days he will not be in lessons with his peers. After this period his hair will no longer be considered an extreme hairstyle; he will return to normal lessons.”

Across the UK, numerous reports have been published about school pupils being placed in isolation and being suspended because of their hair over the last few years. Schools have deemed pupils hair as ‘extreme’ for simply being too short or too long in many cases. Pupils who have dyed their hair unnatural colours have also been disciplined due to breaching school rules. When schoolchildren are confronted for breaching dress codes, parents often try to fight back and say it’s appalling that their hair has affected their education.

Former teaching assistant, from Winifred Holtby Academy, Sarah Wilkinson says she has seen school children get in trouble for changing their hair for charities as well.

She remembers a time when she was working at the secondary school in Hull and a schoolgirl was sent home for dying her hair red for charity. The school gave the student money to go and purchase two boxes of hair dye, after her parents tried to protest and said they couldn’t afford to change her hair back. She thinks it “wasn’t fair” that the student was told to change it.

Miss Wilkinson questions: “How does the colour of your hair make any difference to how you are going to work?”

The teaching assistant thinks the colour of pupil’s hair should not have an impact on their education. She believes placing pupils out of classrooms affects their learning because they have no one there to help them and explain any work they are given.

Miss Wilkinson says disciplining pupils in this way achieves nothing, other than encouraging them to break the rules to get out of going to classes.

As well as dying hair for charity, schoolchildren have also been known to change their hair to boost their self-esteem.

Last month a schoolgirl in Harlow, dyed her hair to give herself more confidence after being bullied for the past two years and feeling suicidal.

Madison Holman, who attends Channel 4’s Educating Essex school Passmores Academy, revealed to The Sun that she was forced to learn out of class after dying her hair a subtle dark purple colour.

Her mum said the school went “overboard with the punishment” because you could hardly see the colour. She also said it was a shame they were being “so petty” about it because she loved her new haircut and noticed a positive change in her daughters confidence.

Vic Goddard, principal at Passmores Academy, told the Sun: “Passmores Academy has very clear rules and expectations regarding uniform that have been in place for many years.

“We do not apologise for having high expectations of our young people and of the partnership we expect of having with parents/carers.”

Ashely Sparke, 15, from Hull has also faced issues with his school because of his haircuts. The schoolboy, who goes to Hull Trinity House Academy has been suspended and placed in isolation on numerous occasions.

His mum, Emma Sparke, 35, says her child has been punished for having simple hairstyles and it is “ridiculous”. She thinks schools shouldn’t penalise children for their appearance as it’s “a form of discrimination”.

Miss Sparke remembers a time when her son was sent home after getting his hair permed. He was told he had to change it back to how it was and he wasn’t allowed back onto the school premises until his hair was natural, even though his mum Miss Sparke has natural curly hair.

She presses: “I don’t believe the school should get to say how the children have their hairstyles, it’s taking away their identities and freedom. It should be down to the child’s parents if they can or cannot have their hair a certain way.”

The 15 year old was also once punished for a week for attending school with his hair long on the top of his head and shaved on the sides. The sailor boy’s school told Miss Sparke pupils should have their hair one length, so that no one looks out of place.

According to Miss Sparke, her son felt lonely in the week he was separated from his peers. She explains Ashley begged to stay at home instead of going to school because he had no one to speak to.

Despite Miss Sparke’s complaints, she says she understands that schools are strict with hair because they can be distracting in lessons if they are bright and have patterns in them.

Hull Trinity House Academy have been contacted about the matter and we are still waiting for them to comment.

The Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said the policy of isolating school pupils because of their hair is “wrong”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, Ms Yiasouma claimed guidance from the department to the schools is sometimes “too woolly”.

She said: “They (children) have a right to express themselves. Unfortunately our education does not allow them that right.”

Due to these issues schoolchildren have been facing, it is important to remember to seek permission before your child drastically changes their hairstyle. Even if the makeover is for charity, it is highly likely it will cause trouble.

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Reflective evaluation of proper feature

I came across the story for my proper feature when I noticed someone had posted a status on Facebook about the lack of young people in the music scene. His status sparked up a big debate on the social media site as to whether the music scene is deteriorating.

The type of publication this feature would go in is a local magazine such as Browse. This is because it only focuses on Hull’s music scene and would therefore interest people who are a part of that.

The sources I used for this feature are all primary and they are:

  • Darren Bunting – venue owner and promotor
  • Michael Wright – guitarist
  • Lewis Ross – O’Rileys employee and drummer
  • Lane Daniel – vocalist
  • Joey Aitchison – photographer and videographer
  • Mark Page – festival director, and founder and promotor of The Sesh
  • Casey Stead – bar staff and promotor at Adelphi

As I already briefly knew these people and had them on Facebook, I contacted them through that and then met up with them in person. Facebook tends to be the best way to get in touch with people who are part of the local music scene.

Reflective evaluation on review

I came across the gig I reviewed when someone I knew of sent me a generic message on Facebook that said his band were selling some tickets for a show they were playing. I then asked this person if I could have a free ticket for reviewing the gig for him and he let me have one. The person who I was in contact with through Facebook for the review was called Lewis Ross, who is the drummer in a band called Wake Up in Vegas. The event I reviewed was a Kasabian tribute band and a small local band playing a gig. This type of feature is likely to be seen in a small and local music magazine or on a website such as Browse Magazine because the bands aren’t well known and the review would only appeal to people in the bands hometown, Hull, who are part of the music scene.