Founder of Cocoa Girl magazine launches journalism school to improve diversity

The founder of the first major black children’s magazine, Cocoa Girl, is to launch a journalism school to fight against inequality in the industry.

Serlina Boyd, 42, lives in Hampshire but describes herself as a “South London girl” through-and-through having spent her early life in Brockley, Blackheath and Croydon.

On Monday, Ms Boyd will launch the Cocoa School of Journalism and Creative Arts in Beckenham Road, Beckenham.

She said: “It’s more than just a journalism school, it will also teach young people about reading, writing and creating storyboards in a fun way.

Serlina Boyd with her magazine Cocoa Girl (Picture: Serlina Boyd)

“Beckenham is a brilliant area but South London gets a lot of bad press. We want to put some positivity into the area to make sure that we are helping young people  especially – to get them off their phones.”

The school, which will run every day during after-school hours and throughout the day during half-term, will teach children about news reporting and video editing with a “no phones” policy. There will also be a parents’ and guardians’ storytelling centre with adult evening classes for people who want to learn a new skill.

The Ofsted registered childminder, with 18 years of publishing experience under her belt, said the motivation behind Cocoa School of Journalism came, in part, from her hope to increase diversity in the industry.

Ms Boyd launched Cocoa Girl with her daughter, Faith, in 2020 (Picture: Serlina Boyd)

She said: “The statistics are shocking – according to the Sutton Trust, 80 per cent of editors went to private school, only 11 per cent of journalists are from working-class backgrounds, and a measly 0.2 per cent of journalists are black.

“A lot of people in South London just can’t afford private schools and if you’re not at them children are less likely to find out about the kind of opportunities out there for them.

“We wanted to make an affordable alternative so all children can have the same chance.”

Ms Boyd first made a name for herself  when she and her 10-year-old daughter, Faith, launched Cocoa Girl magazine in 2020.

She said: “When I lived in Beckenham, people would knock on my door and ask if I was the lady who made Cocoa Girl, so I moved to Hampshire where I can focus a bit more!”

Ms Boyd (left) with group of Cocoa for girls journalists after their interview will Halle Bailey (right) (Picture: Serlina Boyd)

The magazine is put together by a team of journalists aged 10 and above and is distributed in 500 schools across the UK. Soon after founding Cocoa for girls in 2020, a Cocoa for boys was launched.

She said: “We have taken some of our young journalists onto the red carpet to interview stars and the videos are going viral.

“A group of our girls interviewed Halle Bailey, who starred in the recent Little Mermaid movie as the first black depiction of Ariel, and that video blew up.”

So far, Ms Boyd said more than 300 parents have signed up wanting to enrol their children in Cocoa School of Journalism and Creative Arts.

Ms Boyd also said she has been in talks with the Arts Council to develop the school into “something much bigger”.

Pictured top: Cocoa School of Journalism and Creative Arts will open on Monday (Picture: Serlina Boyd)

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