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Rewrite the Headlines: Runner up primary schools

by on 2016/02/16

Over the first few weeks of February, we’re showcasing the top entries in both the school and undergraduate categories of our Rewrite the Headlines competition (full list of winners here). We continue with the runners up in the primary school category, from Sandaig Primary School, Glasgow, and St. Mun’s Primary School, Dunoon.

First to Sandaig Primary School (pictured above) and their entry.

The children at Sandaig Primary changed the headline ‘Your breakfast May give you cancer: Food safety watchdog warns dangers of crunchy toast and roast potatoes’, which they had read on TechTimes.com, to ‘Roast and toast less for a healthier diet’.

Here is the children’s explanation for this change in the headline:

Primary 7 chose this article as they thought the headline was very matter of fact and could scare people into not eating toast or roast potatoes for their dinner. In fact the article is about the amount of acrylamide in foods when you cook them at high temperatures. Acrylamide is a cancer causing substance and levels increase in food when they are cooked. The children thought their new headline was more appropriate as it was encouraging people to think about their diets rather than scaring people into not eating certain foods.

The judges felt this was a strong entry because the pupils had paid attention to the wording which they felt was scaremongering and they had put a more positive spin on it. Well done Sandaig Primary for this runner up entry!

Now to St. Mun’s primary and their entry. 

The children at St. Mun’s Primary changed the headline ‘Fresh sea air ‘full of deadly pollution’ to ‘Could The Fresh Sea Air Be Life Threatening?’

Here is the children’s explanation for this change in the headline:

As we live by the coast we found this a very interesting story. We looked at the article and analysed it trying to find arguments for and against the headline which had been used in the paper.

What we discovered was that the journalist used very persuasive language to make the readers almost ‘afraid’, but to convince them that the headline did in fact reflect the content of the article eg:

“‘deadly cocktail’ of pollutants”, “penetrate deep in the body”, “premature death”, “10,000 deaths a year”.

But when you look closer these phrases are often proceeded by works like: “could”, “may even cause”, “could be contributing”. While we think this discovery is important and should be investigated further, they have not convinced us the research warrants the headline and feel it is an example of ‘exaggeration’.

The judges felt this was a strong entry because the pupils had paid careful attention to the wording and linked it to what they had learned about the concept of ‘exaggeration’. Well done St. Mun’s Primary for this runner up entry!


The Rewrite the Headlines competition was supported by funding from the British Academy, with additional funding from the University of Strathclyde. The runner-up prizes were  sponsored by the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde and the School of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews.

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Prizes were supported by the British Academy, the University of Strathclyde, the School of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews, the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences, and the Particle Physics Experiment Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, the Social Research Association, the Scottish History Society, and Palgrave Macmillan.

Competition details can be accessed at https://researchtheheadlines.org/rewritetheheadlines, and the full list of winners is available here.

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