Press Pass was launched by NewsBrands Ireland in 2012. The initiative was developed in consultation with the Department of Education (Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit) and was launched by the then Minister for Education, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD, in September 2012.
To date, almost 60,000 Transition Year students around the country have taken part in the initiative.
Schools register their interest on the website and nominate a local newsagent.
During a specific week in November, we arrange for newspapers to be delivered to the newsagent free of charge for collection by the school. At the same time workbooks are delivered either to the school or the nominated newsagent. The workbooks are designed to be used in conjunction with the newspapers to facilitate students’ understanding of the newspaper format. Whilst Press Pass is aimed at TY students, some schools run the programme for all strands of secondary education from 1st year right up to Leaving Cert.
Press Pass is designed specifically to enable students and teachers alike to learn all about newspapers and the writing, analysis, preparation and photography that’s involved in putting one together.
Students become familiar with the five language types which form the basis of study for Leaving Certificate English paper one in a very practical way; the languages of Information, Argument, Narration, Persuasion as well as the Aesthetic Use of Language.
Press Pass also introduces students to a variety of texts – among them interviews, news reports, feature articles, sports commentary etc. By reading these texts students will become alert to different language registers and styles and will gain an awareness of language in context.
Press Pass also provides students with an opportunity to focus on current issues, current affairs, current trends – which can lead to interesting debates in the classroom.
Feedback from teachers suggests that Press Pass motivates students to become more critical of the material they read, and, consequently, become more critically aware of their own writing style.
A key element of Press Pass is the national writing and photojournalism competition. Schools are asked to select a maximum of three pieces in each of five categories (news, sport, features, comment and photo journalism) for entry to the national competition. The winners are selected by a panel of eminent editors and journalists, chaired by Prof John Horgan, the former Press Ombudsman. The closing date for entry to this year’s competition is January 31st 2017.