Helping pupils to spot fake news

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A free programme designed to help primary-age children to spot misinformation and fake news has reached its 10,000th pupil.

The NewWise initiative helps pupils aged nine to 11 to question, query and engage with the news and has been designed by the National Literacy Trust, the Guardian Foundation, and the PSHE Association.

The programme has wider benefits, including improving pupils’ civic engagement and using news literacy to boost pupil wellbeing, especially when interacting with upsetting stories such as the war in Ukraine or climate change.

An evaluation of the programme, which has been running now for five years, found that the percentage of pupils who felt they could easily tell whether a news story was trustworthy increased from 31% to 88%.

A participating teacher added: “The news is very scary for children today, and your suggestions on how to teach students strategies for calming down or resolving their news anxiety was right on target.”

The programme offers free cross-curricular news literacy education resources and experiences for schools and families, with the focus being on giving children with the skills and knowledge to engage with news, to feel confident to ask questions and challenge misinformation, and to share their own values and opinions in a “fair, responsible and truthful way”.

Tim Judge, head of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust, said: “Learning to combat fake news and navigate information both on and offline is one of the most important skills we can give children and young people to support them now and in their adult lives. And it all starts with literacy.

“Good literacy skills including comprehension and having the vocabulary and communication confidence to question sources and vocalise their own opinion is a useful skill in every part of your life, but particularly in challenging misinformation and feeling empowered to engage in activism or civic life.”

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