THEY are the Class of 2017.

Students from the Southern Daily Echo’s first Classroom in the Newsroom training scheme are about to graduate having completed their course.

The Daily Echo teamed up with Highbury College in Portsmouth to run a one-year diploma in journalism based at the Echo’s Redbridge headquarters.

The course started last September with a mixture of work experience and training. Students are now leaving with the skills they need to make it on a newspaper, website, TV and radio station.

The diploma – which is fully accredited by the National Council for Training of Journalists – can also pave the way for a job in public relations, social media, publishing and communications.

The students have covered the essentials of journalism including reporting, public affairs, media law, court reporting, video broadcasting and shorthand.

Throughout the year they split their time between classroom sessions and carrying out reporting tasks including covering the Southampton Boat Show, school Ofsted reports, 100th birthdays and combing through the Daily Echo’s archives for stories for the Hampshire Heritage pages.

One of the students, Liam Whitlock, even penned a front-page splash about Saints fans being chased at knifepoint by thugs in Milan following the club’s Europa League match with Inter.

Paul Foster, who runs the NCTJ-accredited courses at Highbury College, said: “This was our first year in partnership with the Southern Daily Echo and it’s been a huge success.

“We’re now looking for the next batch of wannabe journalists who have a nose for a story and dream of a future career in the media, whether that’s in newspapers, social media, magazines or online. The students who passed through the Echo this year have had a great experience and are on the first step of the ladder to get a job.”

David Brine, the Daily Echo’s head of training, who runs the scheme in the newsroom, added: “It’s been a fantastic learning experience – for the students, for myself and my colleagues in the newsroom.

“We are currently considering taking on some of the students as full-time reporters and I will certainly be following their progress over the years.”

Students who took part in the course also had their say.

Liam, 20, from Sholing, Southampton, said: “The best thing was getting first-hand experience of working in a newsroom, which you don’t get with going to university. A student would treasure one week in a newsroom let alone one year. My favourite part of the course was my first-hand experience to work with the public at the boat show. I would like to thank all my teachers as well as Ian Murray, Gordon Sutter and everyone else who helped me throughout the year.”

Gareth Newnham, 31, from Woolston, Southampton, said: “I have had a great time on this course. In particular I found learning on the job in a real newsroom to be an invaluable and highly enjoyable experience. I enjoyed learning about the ins and outs about media law and also reviewing concerts and plays during the year, which was a great experience.”

Nicola Scovell, 19, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, added: “We have learned loads of new skills and have got a taste of what it is like to work in an active newsroom. My favourite part of the course was going to court and reporting on the cases that we sat through.”

Ellie Cotton, 19, of Chandler’s Ford, said: “For me the course exceeded my expectations. I have now gained transferable skills which will help me in the future. My favourite parts of the course were going to court and attending a press conference at the Mayflower.”

Harrison Cox, 19, from Regents Park, Southampton, said: “‘I thought the course went very well and I liked the opportunity we got to work in a busy newsroom of a regional newspaper. I think this have given me a great deal of knowledge and experience to get a future career in the media industry.”

Emily Cox, 18, of Colden Common near Winchester, said: “I thought the course was really good. It was great that we got our own desk, emails and business cards as part of the work experience. I’ve definitely become more confident and grown as a person over the last year. My favourite part was going out and speaking to people and seeing my articles in the paper.”

Those who would like to apply for the next Classroom in the Newsroom course starting in September can log on to, ring 023 9238 3131 or email to arrange an interview. Search for Highbury College Journalism Training page on Facebook for more information.