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Course is top of the league

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Top of the class

The Press Association’s journalism training centre in Newcastle has been named the best in Britain.

Trainee reporters on the multimedia course stormed their way to the top of the national results tables with an unprecedented 92% exam pass rate.

The tables are compiled by industry accreditors, the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

They show that the Newcastle centre – which runs 17-week courses – clinched the top spot ahead of University MAs in journalism and other fast-track courses across the country.

It is the third time in four years that the Newcastle course has claimed the top place in the tables, but the first time it has achieved the overall number one spot.

Paul Jones, Head of Press Association Training’s multi-media course, said: “We thought our trainees’ performances in shorthand, law, government and news writing would be impossible to beat and we were right.

“This is tremendous news and our trainers are delighted.

“This success is down to their expertise – as well as their tremendous dedication and hard work.

“Our trainee reporters leave here ready for the newsroom, with a string of exam successes under their belt. The fact that the NCTJ recognise this is very gratifying.”

The winners were announced at the NCTJ’s annual skills conference, held this year at Belfast City Hall.

NCTJ Chief Executive Jonanne Butcher said “Press Association Training’s Newcastle course is a consistent performer not just in terms of exam results but the quality of training and its focus on the practical skills trainees need to get a head start in their journalism careers.

“However, the 2011-12 results, which mean the course was the best performing NCTJ-accredited course overall, were remarkable with 92 per cent of students achieving the ‘gold standard.”

The Press Association Training Centre is based within the offices of ncjMedia, which publishes the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun.

Trainees routinely contribute to all three titles during their time on the course – Newcastle is the one of only two journalism training scheme in the country to offer such an opportunity.

Established in 1969, the centre has trained some of the most famous names in British journalism and continues to turn out reporters for regional and national papers.

Former trainees include the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Today programme’s James Naughtie and Financial Times editor Lionel Barber.

More recent trainees include The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn and Rosa Prince, who was on the Daily Telegraph’s award-wining team that exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal.

Paul Jones said: “Times are tough in our industry, with all kinds of questions being asked about the future of the business.

“It has never been more important that we make sure journalists get the best training possible and that’s what we are obviously doing here in Newcastle.”

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Studying for exams

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Lucy Skoulding

'Financially I really needed to work full time alongside getting my NCTJ and this course absolutely allowed me to do that'

Lucy Skoulding // Journalist - Accountancy Age

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