Thursday, March 3rd, 2016.

 Pupils Michael, Joe, Courtney and Ellie with BBC journalist Emma Wass and rescue horse Phoebe.

Budding Excelsior newshounds are making the headlines – and delivering the news – as part of BBC School Report.

Pupils Courtney, Ellie, Michael and Joe  joined BBC broadcast journalist Emma Wass at Newcastle Cat and Dog Shelter and Animal Sanctuary to compile a report on their heart warming work.

The pupils took over the microphone from Emma to pitch questions to the shelter’s chief executive Leyla Rutter which will be used in a report to run on BBC Radio Newcastle on March 10.

The BBC is turning over its airwaves to School Report that day allowing pupils aged 11-16 across the UK the opportunity to broadcast their own news reports which they have spent weeks researching.

Courtney recorded the introduction to Excelsior’s shelter report for broadcast next week before Emma interviewed all four pupils after their tour around the sanctuary.

They saw for themselves the incredible work staff do to care for and rehome dogs, cats, pigs, horses and a host of farm animals.

Pupils asked Leyla questions such as how many dogs are housed at the shelter, how long they stay at the home, the condition of animals brought into the shelter for care and how much people have to pay when they adopt a dog.

Leyla said: “We have had 175 dogs brought to us since Christmas, either found on the streets wandering or people have taken on too much and can’t look after them anymore and have brought them in.

“We have about 80 dogs at the moment all of whom need homes. We ask for a donation of £120 to adopt a dog and that gets you a free health check, vaccinations, vet check, insurance, worming tablets and your dog as well.”

Emma said: “BBC School Report is a fantastic opportunity for students and children all across the country to have a go at being a news reporter for the day.

“Hopefully today’s recordings with Excelsior will be played on BBC Newcastle and I’ll use the sound effects we have recorded, the interviews the children did with the boss at the cat and dog shelter and the interviews I did asking the children about why they chose to come here and what they learned.

“I’ll put this together into a report that will go out on BBC School Report Day. I think the children did really well and had obviously thought a lot about the type of questions they wanted to ask.

“There were a lot of detailed questions and I could tell that it had a great impact on them looking around the shelter.”

Teacher Natalie Bryce, who accompanied the youngsters around the shelter, is one of a number of staff at Excelsior who are using lesson plans and materials from the BBC School Report team to help develop pupils’ journalistic skills so they can report on the stories that matter to them.

“The pupils took time to compile really thoughtful questions about the shelter, its work and the animals it cares for,” said Natalie.

“It was nerve-wracking for them to put those questions to the chief executive Leyla, but they thoroughly enjoyed taking over the microphone from Emma to act as journalists before she interviewed them about their experience.”

Last year, more than 1,000 schools across the UK took part in the award-winning BBC project.

Students reported on a range of issues, from social media and addiction to why dancing is not just for girls.

To listen to BBC Newcastle’s Excelsior School Report interviews, go to: