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VLOG: Living with type one diabetes

by Issy 

Our view: Sanitary towels should be affordable 

by Lizzy

We asked a Year 9 class about their opinion on this issue where girls are missing school because they simply cannot afford sanitary towels.

In my opinion I think that this is such a big problem and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. In the article, girls said that they had to tape toilet paper to their underwear.

I believe that this shouldn’t be happening as this would ruin you day. Due to girls not being able to afford sanitary towels they are missing school every month and this is ruining their learning.

Girls from one of our year 9 classes said that this awful especially as we are living in such a developed country you wouldn’t expect this to be happening.

Many of our girls said that the price of sanitary towels and tampons should be reduced seen as sanitary towels are a necessity in a girl’s life.

Some suggested that the government should supply all schools with free sanitary products. Furthermore another student commented that like we have food banks we could open sanitary banks? 

“How have we allowed this to happen?” 

Reaction: Stormzy's lyrics can help young people speak out

by Neha

Earlier this month grime artist Stormzy broke various records as he released his new album Gangs Signs and Prayer.

But what has really captured our attention was his honesty in speaking about his feelings whether that was about his mental health or family background.

Linked in to our article on young people's mental health we thought it was important to make a link between the two.

We spoke to students in year nine and thirteen about their thoughts on the new album and how it could inspire young people to be open about their feelings.

Year 9 student

"I can relate to Stormzy's music. He was just a normal kid from south London and he had problems with family, just like any of us. He can inspire boys to let out their feelings.

"Most boys keep it in and they have that thought if they let it out it will hurt their ego. But if they don't let it out it could lead to violence.

"In some songs he speaks about religion, like the song 'Blinded by your grace' he says how he is not worthy of God coming to save him after all he has done. I get that because we all do bad things and we doubt about how much love God has for us."

Year 13 student:

"Stormzy teaches the younger generation that they don't have to be afraid of who they are and don't have to change who they are or their talent. They can be creative, just be them.

"When he talked about depression for boys it is a thing that guys don't want to speak about because it can 'weaken' them so those songs can encourage boys, and also girls, to speak about their problems."

VIDEO: Celebrating diversity at La Retraite 

by Shyann, Rachel, Angelina and Emma 

Our report: Teens on their phones

by Rhoda, Divine and Denise 

Teenagers have grown up where having a phone and using social medial use is considered as ‘cool’ amongst their peers.

But their brains are still developing at such a young age and this means they are very susceptible to developing an addiction to their smartphones and/or social media.

In this article we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of having a phone, we even heard from our local MP Chuka Umunna. 

There are many advantages of having a phone……

Easy Communication (emergency situations)
Mobile phones are useful on the go, especially when you have internet connection. Many parents allow their kids to carry a mobile phone as they feel their children’s safety is more secure. In the UK, 9 out of 10 kids have a phone.

Always connected and for multiple uses

Mobile phones are convenient devices that can be used for a variety of tasks. Especially when you can communicate with friends with a mobile phone, you are connected to the internet throughout.
You can search for places and directions for places that you are not familiar with.

Our local MP Chuka Umunna spoke to us about his views on phone addiction. Even though he told us he gets told off for being addicted to his phone by family members, he also saw the benefit of having a smartphone. 

He said: "It’s a good way to gather information but it encourages a lot of debate”

“You can live in a world where everyone agrees with you."

But with advantages, there’s also disadvantages of mobile phones... 

Constant Interruption
Since you’re always connected when you have your mobile phone, it becomes harder to ignore interruptions. People are always on their phones receiving calls, speaking to their friends and chatting on social media, receiving emails and listening to music. It has become virtually impossible to avoid unneeded interruptions.

If you’re unable to control yourself, this can become a problem as you won’t have time to get anything important done. Furthermore, you can’t avoid work related emails and phone calls when you’re at home, with your family or on vacation.

There are many effects of teen smartphone addiction including decreased brain connectivity in parts of the brain that control: Emotions; decision-making; impulse-control; an increased probability of consuming alcohol or using tobacco; an increased probability to have poor dietary habits and in some cases social loneliness.

Possibility of Privacy Leak
Having all your information on your device is very convenient. However, it’s also dangerous because there’s a possibility of someone else accessing your phone.

The accidents caused by usage of mobile phones when driving is innumerable.
The temptation to pick an important call when driving is huge. The mobile phone can also disrupt a meeting or class if proper etiquette is not followed. It could also start ring during a class or meeting can distract the attendees and waste precious time. They also distract you from everyday life. 

What does La Retraite think?
From a La Retraite survey, 50% said they use their phone for 1-4 hours. These hours are appropriate but there are also 4% who said 18 hours or more. So, there are fortunately low numbers of people who are likely to overuse their phone.
28% of people also said they can go without their phone for 2-5 days. This means that they may be more dependant or used to having their device in their daily lives.

Teenagers use many different forms of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter–which allow them to connect with their peers. While these applications provide the user with the ability to connect with others all around the world and access news and information, they also can lead to problems that can affect their future such as, cyberbullying, sexting, and depression. This hasimpacted people in general as one in four (26%) young people in the UK experience suicidal thoughts.

Due to the nervous system and other vital systems are still developing in the teenage years, children and young people might be more vulnerable to radiation than adults.

Symptoms of cell phone addictions are: anxiety; depression; significant weight change; change in diet; change in sleep patterns; little interest in activities they once found enjoyable; difficulties paying attention; low self-esteem; neglecting other activities and is constantly on his or her phone; sore neck or headaches; experiencing “phantom vibration syndrome”. This syndrome can include checking his/her phone when it hasn’t vibrated or rung and using his or her cell phone while driving or crossing the street.

Afternoon news and weather bulletin


Our report: Young people's mental health  

By Neha and Emily

Across the country students are talking to BBC School Report about young people's mental health. 

Our article below captures what we believe are the important issues surrounding young people's mental health and the views of one of our teachers as well.

Neha, Year 9 student

I have decided to write an article on young people’s mental health because I feel like it isn’t spoken about enough and it’s not a topic that is used in daily conversations.

This means a lot to me since I have unfortunately lost a lot of friends due to mental health issues e.g. depression, anxiety and stress. I think that if I help to get the topic of mental health out there more then hopefully it will lead to improved support in schools.

In my opinion, I think that people who face challenges with their mental health should willingly go and talk to someone they trust and friends who know where they’re coming from and understand completely. The people that they are speaking to should act in a comfortable manner around them, speak in an environment that they feel safe in and not talk to them in such a way that will make them seem different (because personally I feel that this is an issue and will make them feel worse).

The topic of mental health should be a common subject for schools to teach and spread awareness on, for example, plan PSHCE lessons on it and assemblies.

As mentioned before, I have personally been affected by the lack of support for mental health issues because a number of friends of mine have passed away due to various mental health issues and there wasn’t enough help and support there for them. I really want that to change. 

Emily, Year 9 Student

This picture is about a person and their conscience. The person on the left is thinking. The person on the right, who is the conscience, is questioning what that person is thinking.

This is to represent an interpretation of what the brain might be thinking against what the person is thinking. This is what dealing with mental health is like for some people.

As the story continues we see the person getting annoyed at the conscience for asking too many questions.
As you can see we then see the person close up from behind. The numbers show the countdown as we get towards a breakdown.

Then the person explodes and as I said at the end within this explosion the person forgets to breathe."

Miss Ungaro, learning mentor at La Retraite

"One of the main things we do is that we keep contact with the students and we see them on a regular basis.

"We actually have a school counsellor who’s just here once a week, mainly working with 6th formers but when there’s a need and a space, she has worked with students younger down in the school.

"We work very closely with counsellors who are working with our students and some of those counsellors actually come into school and offer their counselling services within the school setting because it’s more difficult sometimes for some students to leave school or to make their appointment.

"We also try make mental health something that is on the agenda so there are some sessions within PSHCE. When it’s mental awareness day there’s quite a lot ready and prepared for the school and for the sixth form I made a PowerPoint about emotional well-being and how to keep yourself emotionally well and who to go to for support.

"We have a very good connection with the Well Centre in Streatham which is somewhere we recommend to students because they can access youth workers and they can also go on to see a nurse or a doctor for help and support.


BBC Radio One's Dr Radha Modgil on teeange vaping 


by Lizzy and Amy 

After our article on teeange vaping we spoke to Dr Radha Modgl on the issue. Here is her interview below

1) What is your opinion on teenage vaping?

My opinion is that it is best to avoid vaping. E-cigarettes contain nicotine which is addictive and also other potentially harmful chemicals. So to keep yourself healthy, I would recommend staying clear of vaping.

2) What are the health risks to the body as we think alot of our friends don't know what the risks are?

Nicotine alters the balance of chemicals in your brain. Nicotine is highly addictive, which means that your body and brain get used to the chemical and craves it. This means you will find it harder and harder to choose if you want to vape or not - your body will start to develop  symptoms when you don't have nicotine and so you will become addicted to vaping. You might start feeling anxious, irritable or low in mood.

3) What are the differences between vaping and smoking? Is one 'healthier' than the other?

Vaping (e-cigarettes) does not produce carbon monoxide or tar because there is no burning involved, unlike smoking. Vaping is still relatively new so we don't know all of the potential health risks that it may bring. Public Health England have stated that vaping is around 95% safer than smoking, but it is definitely not risk free. Remember nicotine is a really addictive substance and so it is better to avoid altogether, so you are in control of how you feel and what you do.  To be healthy, avoid both vaping & smoking - we have no way of knowing if there are other health risks associated with vaping, so it is best to be on the safe side.

4) What would be your advice to teenagers who feel as though they are being peer pressured into vaping or want to follow the crowd?

It can be hard if your friends or peers are vaping and put pressure on you to start, but remember, it is your body and your brain so you are the one who needs to decide. At the end of the day, your health is much more important than what they might think of you or say about you - put your health and yourself first. Talk to an adult you trust if you feel the pressure is overwhelming and get their support. Part of becoming a mature adult and teenager is learning to make your own decisions rather than follow a crowd - so be proud of your decision to stay healthy!


Our report: Teenage Vaping 

by Lizzy and Amy 

Teenagers love to break and bend the rules any way possible escalating from being the disruptive student in class to avoiding chores and homework.

But now a new phenomenon is emerging amongst teenagers. Vaping.

Vaping is the process of inhaling and exhaling from electronic cigarettes.

More and more teenagers are participating in vaping even though it is illegal to sell it over the counter to anyone under the age of 18.

Vaping is meant to give smokers an alternative to inhaling all the harsh chemicals which are included in a single cigarette.

However, e-cigarettes also include a mixture of unhealthy substances. According to an article in the Guardian two years ago, e-cigarettes can generate toxic chemicals similar to those found in tobacco.

After speaking to our peers on the issue, we have found out that many of them see vaping as the gateway to smoking.

Many also see it as a way to enhance their social status amongst friendship groups.

Teenagers have told us that they have been dragged in by peer pressure and see it as a cool thing to do.

One anonymous teen said: "Why wouldn't I vape? My friends had it and I wanted to try it.
"I got them to buy it from someone else. It only cost £2."

Another student told us: "It is more of a teen to adult thing to do. For teens it is to fulfil a kind of status."

We also spoke to Mr Allan, our assistant headteacher who said: "School would obviously not be keen on people doing it because nicotine is an addiction just like any sort of drug, so even if there’s lessharm on the vaping it’s still not good to be addicted and I wouldn’t want young people wasting their money, I just don’t see the point." 


Pic credit: (By Lindsay Fox from Newport beach, United States - Vaping, CC BY 2.0,


by Shannon 

In the UK, education has evolved into one of those topics which you just can’t get your head around. While it’s vital to everyone’s future, others may regard it as something pointless.

Parents blame the teachers while teachers blame the parents and government, the government imposes even more paperwork, and the syllabus keeps changing like an indecisive shopaholic. And, unfortunately for us, it gives us results- poor results; in the international PISA rankings of 2015, the UK was given 15th for science, but had 22nd for reading and 27th for mathematics. Brilliant.

In order to uncover some clues of this mystery, I decided to investigate, piecing together my findings in hope to spark a plug. It was not surprising that people were quite opinionated* on this topic, yet interesting how these views have not been carried out in the everyday goings of the school, an institution that affects our past, present, and future.

*(Or maybe it’s just the censoring. Who knows?)


“Today is data-driven”

The interview started off with the classical introduction and explanation of the article, ensuring that she truly understands what I am interviewing her about. It started off with fairly short answers, her commenting with the fact that teachers receive an unrealistic workload, any outstanding school receiving a minimum of 10 hours a day- outside of class. Ideally, the extra time to cater to individuals’ needs, and planning the lessons should be done in good quality.

However, the government makes this impossible and work isn’t focused on actual teaching- but rather, on providing compulsory evidence of them doing that properly. Ironic, isn’t it? According to teachers, this data culture has been existing for some time- but recently, it has worsened.

“The child almost becomes somewhat a number for the government”

Children’s progress are measured according to numbers, being test marks, and attendance and punctuality percentages. But the main problem with this is that these don’t identify with the more personal issues, such as mental health and family. These affect the child’s performance in school and is more common than people may think. Imagine that you were in a class or meeting of 12 people. Already, 3 of them are bound to have mental issues. But this is based on published figures, and this only shows so much. So a lot more people are affected and thus distraction and stress brings their performance down.

“It’s a danger to rely on the government to solve issues that are tied to religious institutes and loved ones.”

When was the last time you went to church or practised your religion, if you have one? I will be honest; I haven’t been to church since my confirmation. And while people still practise their religions regularly, the amount of believers have fallen drastically in order to “get with the times”.

While technology and common opinion is changing, the natural human need for support still remains. Unfortunately, society is not dealing with this in a balanced and sustainable way. Secularisation means that people cannot speak spiritual strengthening and guidance, and family problems may be complicated despite parents and guardians being supportive. The weight is then placed on the teachers’ shoulders, who are only human at the end of the day.

“We’re still in the business, they’re not”

This teacher was “regrettably cynical” when the topic of the government was brought up, emphasising the feeling that the government is more of a nuisance than supporting. Teachers are known to have “survived” education ministers, who threaten with imposing policies that are against teachers’ recommendations and consultation with the unions. The higher-ups would never listen until the situation gets to the point of being so bad that something has to be done, yet even then the vicious cycle of bad communication continues.  Teaching isn’t something that you can memorise, but it is a variety of skills working together in order to allow students to truly understand what they’re being taught.

“The education system is too broad”

Another teacher was also nostalgic of the older days, suggesting that there isn’t enough appreciation for people’s individual talents and abilities. He expressed favour towards the 11+ system, where the results of certain exams would determine whether you would go to (for example, if you showed an aptitude for working with your hands, you were sent to a technical school). There, students could make better characters of themselves as they could focus on enhancing their strengths.


In case you don’t know, the learning support department is within the majority of schools, providing support for students with mental and physical problems, but on a level just below counselling.

I spoke to a learning mentor, asking her the simple question of “What does ‘good education’ mean to you?” To my (non-existent) surprise, she was also a supporter of religion being significant to emotional health and therefore education. It aids in the development of the “whole person” (sex, exploitation, maturity), aswell as extracurricular activities such as clubs.

Concerning the government, she believes that the higher-ups should provide more funds into the health sector. For example, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) has a waiting list of six months long. More professionals and drop-in counselling sessions need to be implemented.

“Books are embedded in important parts of life”

She also suggested reasons why the ranks for mathematics and reading are currently lacking. For mathematics, she was unsure but changing the curriculum to something more feasible could be possible. Whereas the problem with reading was clearer to her: youths don’t read much due to the distraction of the trendiness and speed of the internet. Books contributes to our sense of morals, relationships, and comprehension of everyday facts and ideas. They help shape our personalities- in a healthy way.

Unfortunately, people can develop illnesses from consuming social media. Obsessions with appearance, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD- an anxiety condition that causes a person to have a distorted view on their appearance) are just some of the consequences of social media, no matter how mentally strong you seem to be.

Relationships between people have destabilised due to insecurities. Primarily, we no longer talk face-to-face with people. Students may encounter something that upset and annoyed them, leading to arguments and –at a higher level- bullying.

If you were to ask for the average amount of situations learning mentors and teachers have to deal with….
There is a truly dark side to the Internet that is ingrained in everybody’s judgement, and yet the danger managed to seep through. This is online grooming, blackmail, illegal trade, radicalisation, and more. Because the internet is easily accessible, we all take for granted and fail to realise how much in danger we really are. Like magic, it has a price. A very hefty price.


I composed a list of factors that has an effect on the UK’s ranks, approaching random people and explaining each one. I asked them to rank these based on their significance to education, 1 being very important and 5 being irrelevant.

-The quality of education itself: The effectiveness of lessons, teaching techniques, and the skill of the teacher

-Structure of education: Key stages, class sizes, holiday lengths, the syllabus

-Cultural attitudes to work: How much of your upbringing is focused on school, whether it be within the family or community

-Political: Government arty changes, attitudes, and policies

-General health: Physical and mental health of yourself and loved ones

-Economic: The GDP (Gross Domestic Product: wealth) of the country

-Access to technology: Ratios of equipment such as laptops to students

-Environmental: Terrain (how easy it is to commute to school. For example, rural villagers may have to travel far to reach the school in town), risk of natural disasters

 I will summarise my findings below:

-Many people thought that the quality of education was extremely significant, commenting along the lines the lesson is the baseline of learning, where you can enquire about information that you don’t understand.

-The economic state of the country is considered very important, students being aware that material deprivation can affect one’s quality of education. Some have complained about imbalances of funds, money not being allocated to the right areas.

-Access to technology was 2nd place. Technology is integrated into teaching, teachers creating powerpoints and gaining past papers online. Students have grown up with this, so they are familiar with digital techniques. However, some have said that technology isn’t everything due to mind maps, textbooks, and flash cards.

-It spiked some interest in me when students seemed to not regard politics as important, as opposed to teachers. Students have remarked that most policies and government changes do not affect them, but only when the grade boundaries rise or fall.

-General health is key to doing well in life too due to NHS austerity headlines and advertisement for mental and physical support charities (have you seen the latest Cancer Research marathon ad?). Being aware that absence of school can cause them to miss out on vital work, approximately half care enough to catch up.

-Environmental conditions only have an impact when there is an event (e.g. flooding) or if the school is far, because general choices of schools in the UK are based on the distance of travel.

-Cultural attitudes were barely considered by some. 

Overall, students ranked every single factor very high, with very few 4’s and 5’s. Maybe this was due to the fact that this is based on education.

The students that I surveyed tended to not focus on exterior factors, and when they did, alternatives were proposed. For example, for environmental, one told me how long commutes are an opportunity to study.

Rather, lesson quality and time to study were the frontline ways to improve the UK’s ranks. This is something that can be verified by the amount of times I have heard students complaining about her “hardly teaching us”, and from personal experience, a teacher being sacked due to student dissatisfaction.

While the product was incredibly tedious to write, I can promise you that the investigation was eye-opening, shedding some of my student ignorance and introducing me to the happenings backstage. The flaws of the education sector are not the problems themselves, but rather on different perspectives on what they are. With the stabilisation of education, the UK can be the very best again.

Welcome to BBC School Report 2017. Keep your eyes peeled throughout the day for all our stories from our team of reporters.

We are covering: 

1) Mental health and young people 

2) Teenage vaping 

3) Living with type 1 diabetes 

4) Celebrating diversity 

5) Are La Retraite students and teachers addicted to their phones? 

6) Why is the UK ranked so low in the education tables? 


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