THE next generation of journalists have chosen to take on extra responsibilities alongside their school work at The King Alfred School Academy (TKASA) in Highbridge.

Students as young as 11 are spending their free time working on bringing positive local news to the community at the school's Jill Dando News Centre, which was set up in 2017.

The news centres are set up at several schools in the Sedgemoor and North Somerset areas, in memoriam of local reporter Jill, who was killed in 1999.

Kira Nicholas, a year nine student who recently joined the news centre at TKASA, said: "She's inspired so many lives and stories."

Emily Avery, also of year nine, added: "It's just so important to spread positivity."

Both Kira and Emily have committed some of their break times to the cause, and stay after school once a week alongside other students to receive training.Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: A workstation which students can access at any time they choose.A workstation which students can access at any time they choose. (Image: Jamie Grover, Newsquest)

"We get taught what kind of questions to ask, and what to include in our stories to make them more informative," Kira explained.

Emily, who hopes to use the experience to add to her CV, said that after just six weeks at the news centre, she feels she is becoming a better writer, and is enjoying spreading good news for people to read.

Once written, stories are then posted to the Good News Post website for all to read, and some are sent onto the Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News, and the Weston Mercury, where Jill Dando worked in the 1980s.

Nigel Dando, brother of Jill, first opened TKASA's Jill Dando News Centre in 2017, but in 2023, it was further extended into the academy's sixth form centre.Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: The news centre recently expanded into the academy's newly opened sixth form centre.The news centre recently expanded into the academy's newly opened sixth form centre. (Image: Jamie Grover, Newsquest)

TKASA Principal Dan Milford explained how aspiring reporters are catered for at schools across the Priory Learning Trust.

"We recruit them when they arrive here in year seven," he said.

"Even the primary schools have facilities.

"We try to do nice little positive bits of news."

Recent stories covered by the young journalists include a charity bake sale, the magnificent school production, and even a visit to Parliament to meet Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle.