News Publishers Continue Media Literacy Programmes

National, regional and local news publishers are continuing a variety of initiatives to support media literacy across the UK.

In March 2021, The Telegraph launched a Media Literacy Programme for 16-18 year olds about the importance of quality, edited news in society. The programme gives sixth form students the tools and skills to think critically about the news and its multi-platform ecosystem. Around 30 pupils from London state schools are taking part in the online six-week course which aims to inspire participants to develop careers in the world of journalism.

The Guardian Foundation, in conjunction with the National Literacy Trust and PSHE Association, set up NewsWise, an award-winning news literacy project for seven to 11 year olds across the UK. During the pandemic, NewsWise continued with virtual workshops, reaching 650 primary pupils across the UK, with journalist volunteers sharing their expertise in live Q&As and pre-recorded videos. In response to school closures as a result of coronavirus, NewsWise created a family zone with activities, links, tips and advice to help families learn more about the news together, a series of teacher training webinars and the Happy News Project to help primary pupils transition back to school with a focus on wellbeing, with uplifting stories, teamwork, speaking and news writing. The programme was also recognised in Nesta’s 19 “Democracy Pioneers” awards, winning a £10,000 prize for their work to improve people’s understanding and experience of democracy in the UK.

The Guardian Foundation Education Centre have also provided a range of programmes to enable visitors to interact with the news and to provide a realistic understanding of what it is like working in a news organisation. Programmes include successfully piloting and delivering a ‘fake or for real’ workshop with secondary schools across the UK and creating teacher webinars on remote learning and shared resources to assist teachers in engaging students with news and developing critical analysis skills in a distance learning environment.

As part of its 200th anniversary celebrations in Manchester, the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner visited the Russell Scott Primary School. She spoke to students about life as an editor and how to spot fake news as part of the Guardian Foundation’s NewsWise programme.

In 2020 NewsWise, educated 2,563 children aged seven to 11 in 47 primary schools in disadvantaged areas across the UK – twice as many pupils were able to tell whether a news story was real or fake (from 32.7% to 67.2%) and pupils were more than twice as likely to feel able to tell if a news source was trustworthy (33.3% to 82.8%).

The Times and Sunday Times continue their free media literacy programme for schools, the first in the UK when it was launched in 2018. The News Literacy programme is four-lesson course teaching students to think critically when reading the news. Students learn by following in the footsteps of real journalists and editors – how to source and critique news, verify facts and question everything and stay well-informed in the digital world.

The Irish News continues to collaborate with St Mary’s University College to run the media literacy programme ‘The Young Newsreaders’, supported by CBI. The programme, recently re-launched in February 2021, is a major eight-week media literacy drive to help thousands of schoolchildren improve their literacy and critical thinking.

The Kent Literacy Awards also showcase initiatives in south east schools that develop children and teens’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, run by Inspire Schools and the KM Media Charity Team.