Address: Rua Caíque Bom Sucesso, 8700-221 Olhão

Country: Portugal

 School website

Project: “Ria Azul School Newspaper”: A Newsroom Project in a Lower Secondary School


Working language during the project: 

  • Portuguese

Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Making children’s and students’ voices heard
  • Addressing controversial issues
  • Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
  • Improving well-being at school

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability
    The newsroom develops multiple literacy dimensions such as citizenship, environmental protection, ocean and media literacy ; analytical and critical thinking skills towards media and the environment.
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of language and communication
    The newsroom provides students with solid information literacy and the necessary competences to critically understand and assess information
  • Co-operation skills
    The newsroom provides students with the competences and responsibilities for democratic culture in a safe learning co-working environment that promotes freedom of expression, as well as inclusion, tolerance and human rights.
    School community emerges in this interdisciplinary project, improving communication among students, teachers, parents, school management and the school community.

Target group age range:

  • 11-15

Level of education:

  • Lower secondary education

Short description of the project:

“Ria Azul School Newspaper” is an educational school project that grew from the idea of transforming a class into a newsroom for the last two days of each school term. Twenty four students from the 7th grade work together as journalists in a newsroom in order to create content for the “Ria Azul School Newspaper” annual edition. 

The theme of last year’s edition was “Protect the seahorse” because the seahorse population of Ria Formosa, once one of the healthiest in the world, has now decreased by more than 90%, due to poaching and illegal fishing for traditional medicine in eastern countries. 

Our school, João da Rosa School, is located in Olhão, a small fishing town in the heart of the Ria Formosa, a very well known lagoon system in the Algarve. Our school was recognised by the Ministry of Education in 2018 as “Escola Azul” (a “blue school”) because of our special relationship with the sea and our promise of improving ocean literacy in students. At the same time the journal improves students’ media literacy. 

“Ria Azul School Newspaper” is a local and environmental newspaper. Different class teachers’ help in the supervision of students’ work over the two days of newsroom, but all through the school year, several other activities take place in order to produce content for the newspaper. 

First the students have to create the name and the logo of the newspaper, then they plan the activities with the teachers and organise their work in sections or teams: Audiovisual production; We are blue school; Ria sports; Sea interviews; Beautiful ideas; Blue news. They also have to visit and have regular communication with professional journalists, and they begin the project by paying a visit to a real newsroom at the local newspaper “Sul Informação”. 

In this year’s edition students conducted an interview with the Olympic Sailing athlete, Joana Pratas and local street art artist SEN. Students covered the important work of Oceanário and CCMAR, investigation centers that are studying Ria Formosa seahorse reproduction in captivity. Students visited sustainable firms such as NECTON. They also reported on school environmental engagement issues such as the Coastwatch Project and the law-project made by our students that was presented in the national parliament in order to implement better laws to protect the ocean.

Finally, municipal councils and parents’ associations are responsible for the final printing of the journal.

The class transformation into a newsroom enables the students to discuss sensitive and controversial issues, promoting their engagement with environmental community problems. It also provides students with a solid education on media and information literacy, empowering them with responsibility, collaborative work and the necessary competences to critically understand and assess information. They have to deal with deadlines, information sources, create, edit and publish content and talk with several types of professionals in order to make their journalism work.

A redesigned curriculum that provides flexibility to inspire the personalisation of learning and addresses the diverse needs and interests of students is part of the current education law in Portugal.



  • Develop multiple literacy dimensions such as citizenship, environmental protection, ocean and media literacy.
  • Develop analytical and critical thinking skills towards media, environment and school community through an interdisciplinary project. 
  • Improve communication among students, teachers, parents, school management and the school community.


Expected results/outcomes

  • The newsroom project provides the values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding that every student as a citizen needs in order to be active in a democratic society.



  • To create a thoughtful, creative, flexible, self-motivated student, able to learn and to think critically and to contribute to the community and society generally.
  • To create partnerships between students, teachers and parents.
  • To create interdisciplinary, cooperative and inclusive projects.
  • To attract professional journalists and scientists as stakeholders.
  • To make students take the initiative more frequently and become more aware of their own capabilities and responsibility towards community, environment and media.


Challenges you faced

  • Students would benefit from more time working in a newsroom.
  • Students would benefit from having better material such as cameras or computers to work with design programmes.
  • Teachers would benefit from more information about media and environmental issues.


Time-frame of the project:

  • 2018-2021


Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

  • Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture