Tackling fake news: The Happy News Project

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

​The Happy News Project – set up to tackle the scourge of fake news seen during the Covid-19 pandemic – has been made available free to all UK primary schools this year.

Aimed at children aged seven to 11, the initiative aims to equip them with the skills and knowledge to engage with news and spot fake stories and reports.

It has been created by NewsWise, a free, cross-curricular news literacy programme for nine to 11-year-olds developed by The Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association.

The Happy News Project has already been run with 3,715 children living in areas of disadvantage, and after taking part three-quarters of the pupils were able to tell whether a news story was fake or not.

The project also increased pupils’ willingness to watch, read or listen to the news and they were better able to judge if a news source was trustworthy and reliable.

The project uses virtual workshops and uplifting news stories to help pupils develop their team-working, speaking and listening, and news-writing and reading skills.

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.”

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