The Guardian’s NewsWise programme to promote media literacy in schools has seen the critical literacy skills of primary pupils strengthen and increase, a new report has found.
Twice as many pupils were able to tell whether a news story was real or fake (increasing from one third to two thirds) following workshop events and webinars provided by the Guardian’s programme.
Nearly 4,000 pupils aged 7-11 from 75 primary schools in disadvantaged areas joined NewsWise from May 2019 to June 2020.
The programme, which covered the lockdown period, saw the transition of face-to-face workshops and training to providing digital news literacy resources, with some 240 teachers accessing online training webinars.
The report detailed the launch of the Happy News Project which taught pupils to identify a positive newsworthy story, research the details, conduct interviews and prepare a news bulletin – all recorded and edited at home during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Following the digitisation of NewsWise resources, lesson plans are now available for free to every primary school in the UK. Programme leaders say this will enable the project to reach communities where media literacy education is most needed.
Over the past year, Newswise has seen pupils’ interest in the news more than double from 37 per cent to 76 per cent.
Pupils were more than twice as likely to feel able to tell if a news source was trustworthy (from 33 per cent to 83 per cent) and to check its reliability (from 29 per cent to 62 per cent).
Angie Pitt, director of NewsWise at The Guardian Foundation, said: “Children, their families and their teachers have faced unprecedented challenges this year. With a surge in misinformation about the pandemic, it has been vital to help children develop the news literacy skills they need to understand the avalanche of news, determine the reliability of its sources and encounter positive news stories.
“We’re delighted that NewsWise has helped to strengthen so many children’s critical literacy skills and engagement with the news during this time and over the past year. Alongside the roll-out of virtual workshops in September, we plan to bring the magic of NewsWise back into classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Sheffield Star tackles the ‘digital divide’ with laptop donation drive
Meanwhile in Sheffield, regional daily paper the Star is urging its readers to donate computers so disadvantaged children can learn at home.
The Sheffield Star is aiming to tackle the “digital divide” experienced by children who have been unable to join online classes or download homework during the pandemic.
The ‘Laptops for Kids’ campaign was launched on Thursday’s front page with the support of data software firm WANdisco and not for profit company Learn Sheffield.
Star editor Nancy Fielder announced the campaign by urging readers and local businesses to bring out old or unwanted laptops to be cleaned up and distributed to young people most in need of equipment for learning.
Fielder said, “There are always the haves and the have-nots in any city but this pandemic has made that more acutely obvious than ever.
“It is all very well encouraging young people to do their school work at home but it isn’t that easy for most.
“There are all sorts of issues that can get in the way but some are very basic and should be easily sorted.
“You can’t join online classes and you can’t download your homework if you don’t have a laptop or reliable internet.
“I wouldn’t blame you for wondering why on earth anyone in England’s fourth biggest city has insufficient online connectivity – regardless of where they live or what they earn – but this is where we find ourselves in 2020.”