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MPs form group to safeguard children from fake news

Posted on: November 25, 2020 by Mariella Brown

A group of politicians have assembled to reform online safety teaching in schools and teach children how to spot misinformation online.

The initiative comes as only half of teachers have heard of the Government’s guidance to keep children safe, according to newly released research.

Just 14% of schools have implemented recommendations from the government’s “Teaching online safety in schools” guidance across the curriculum, Teacher Tapp has found.

In response, an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Media Literacy will commission an independent inquiry into media literacy in schools, led by former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins MP (pictured).

The APPG, convened by media literacy charity the Student View, includes MPs and Peers from the Labour, Conservative and Scottish National Parties.

The group, the Student View says will support, challenge and monitor the government’s media literacy strategy to ensure school teachers and children have the critical thinking skills needed to survive in the age of mass misinformation.

Plans include establishing an agreed definition of media literacy and ensuring high-quality media literacy training is available for schoolchildren and teachers in the proposed Online Harms Bill.

Chair of the APPG, Damian Collins MP, said: “I strongly believe that we need to promote digital and media literacy as a fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, writing and maths, so that children and young adults can identify sites that they can trust or are safe, appraise the content of what they read, and make informed choices about news they share with others.

“With the Government moving forward on Online Harms legislation, I think we have a golden opportunity to set out standards for a nation-wide media literacy strategy.”

Media literacy charity The Student View, which trains teenagers across the UK how to spot misinformation and become local news reporters, will serve as the group’s secretariat.

Chief Executive of The Student View Solomon Elliott said: “Disinformation is a problem that affects us all, cross-party action is vital to make the UK the safest place to be online.

“We have seen in our workshops how carving out some time in the school calendar for digital literacy gives students the critical thinking tools they need to distinguish fact from fiction and a fighting chance to navigate this challenging reality.”

The announcements follow ongoing campaigns by the Society of Editors for the recognition of the news media in providing trusted news as part of the upcoming Online Harms Bill, which has been delayed since the publication of the Government’s white paper in April 2019.