Award-winning programme boosts primary pupils’ news literacy and creates good news project to support wellbeing on return to school

  • NewsWise strengthened primary pupils’ critical literacy skills and increased their interest and confidence in navigating news, according to new report published today
  • News literacy is increasingly important as fake news around COVID-19 continues to surge
  • NewsWise’s Happy News Project, which supported pupils’ wellbeing in lockdown, is 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 areas of disadvantage have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to engage with, challenge and enjoy news thanks to NewsWise, an award-winning free news literacy project from The Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association and funded by Google.

A surge in fake news around COVID-19 saw half of people (50%) saying they encountered fake news in the first week of lockdown1 and 6 in 10 (59%) saying they have encountered false or misleading information about coronavirus at least once a day in the past week2. With research showing that fake news can drive a culture of fear, uncertainty and mistrust in the news for children and young people3, the role of NewsWise has never been more important.

An evaluation of NewsWise4 published today found that, in the last academic year, the programme strengthened pupils’ critical literacy skills and increased both their interest and confidence in navigating news. After taking part in the programme:

  • Twice as many pupils were able to tell whether a news story was real or fake (from 32.7% to 67.2%)
  • Twice as many pupils were interested in the news (from 36.7% to 75.5%)
  • More pupils read, watched or listened to the news daily or weekly (from 59.5% to 69.0%)
  • Pupils were more than twice as likely to feel able to tell if a news source was trustworthy (from 33.3% to 82.8%) and to check its reliability (from 29.0% to 61.6%)
  • 100% of teachers said pupils had a better understanding of different aspects of news, such as the difference between fact and opinion
  • 97% of teachers agreed that pupils’ skills in thinking critically about news increased

In response to school closures as a result of COVID-19, NewsWise created the Happy News Project to support pupils’ wellbeing and encourage them to interact positively with the news. The project uses uplifting news stories to help pupils develop their teamworking, speaking and listening, and news writing and reading skills. The Happy News Project is free for all UK primary schools to support pupils’ wellbeing and transition back to school for the 2020/21 academic year.

In the 2019/20 academic year, NewsWise delivered workshops to 3,715 pupils in 75 primary schools serving areas of disadvantage across the UK. 894 teachers received face-to-face training, a further 240 accessed webinars during lockdown and 31,059 curriculum-based lesson plans and resources were downloaded. Family workshop events were also delivered to 113 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.

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.”

To read the full report visit: https://literacytrust.org.uk/research-services/research-reports/newswise-evaluation-report-2019-20

 

To find out more about NewsWise and to register your interest in taking part, visit: www.theguardian.com/newswise

 

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