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17 September 2020

Guardian’s Newswise Programme Supports Return To School

The Guardian’s NewsWise programme to promote media literacy in schools has strengthened primary pupils’ critical literacy skills and increased their interest and confidence in navigating news, according to a new report.

During lockdown, NewsWise launched the Happy News Project to support pupils’ wellbeing and the programme is now available for free to all UK primary schools for the 2020/21 academic year.

Over the last year, 3,715 children aged 7-11 in 75 primary schools in areas of disadvantage have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to engage with, challenge and enjoy news thanks to NewsWise.

Nearly 900 teachers received face-to-face training, a further 240 accessed webinars during lockdown and more than 31,000 curriculum-based lesson plans and resources were downloaded.

Family workshop events were also delivered to more than 100 children and 85 adults. A virtual NewsWise workshop was also piloted and will be available from September 2020 for schools who were unable to take part in workshops.

An evaluation of NewsWise published today found that:

  • Twice as many pupils were able to tell whether a news story was real or fake (from 33 per cent to 67 per cent);
  • Twice as many pupils were interested in the news (from 37 per cent to 76 per cent);
  • More pupils read, watched or listened to the news daily or weekly (from 60 per cent to 69 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);
  • All teachers surveyed said pupils had a better understanding of different aspects of news, such as the difference between fact and opinion;
  • Ninety-seven per cent of teachers agreed that pupils’ skills in thinking critically about news increased.

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.”