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Sunday, 24 October 2021
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NewsWise boosts literacy skills of primary school pupils during the pandemic

OVER the last year, 1,878 children aged 9-11 in areas of disadvantage have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to engage with, challenge and enjoy news thanks to NewsWise.

NewsWise is an award-winning free news literacy project from partners The Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association, funded by organisations including Google and the Garfield Weston Foundation. 

Between August 2020 and July 2021, against a background of two national lockdowns and school closures, NewsWise saw even greater digital engagement and interest in materials to help combat misinformation. There was an 82% increase in downloads of its media literacy resources: a total of 58,368 free resources were accessed by teachers and pupils to help combat misinformation and support access to facts.

This comes as COVID-19 misinformation continues to be shared across media and social media platforms, and the ability to distinguish between real and ‘fake’ news is increasingly important. 

An evaluation report by NewsWise 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: 

  • The percentage of pupils who were able to tell whether news stories in a news quiz were fake or real more than doubled (from 32.1% to 73.8%)
  • The percentage of pupils who would check whether a news story came from a company or person they trusted also doubled (from 41.5% to 82.1%)
  • There was increased confidence navigating news: 32.9% of pupils felt it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to gauge a story’s trustworthiness before the programme, increasing to 90.7% afterwards 
  • 100% of teachers said pupils had a better understanding of thinking critically about news, such as the difference between fact and opinion
  • 100% of teachers felt more confident in supporting pupils’ news literacy

Elli Narewska, Programme Manager of NewsWise at The Guardian Foundation, said:

“The positive results of the evaluation are especially impactful considering the terrible disruption faced by pupils and teachers over the last year. The implications of misinformation and access to facts during the two national lockdowns and the vaccine rollout were particularly stark. 

“We were so pleased with the significant increase in participants’ critical literacy attitudes and behaviours, as well as teachers’ feedback on their pupils’ excellent engagement with the programme.”

NewsWise boosts literacy skills of primary school pupils during the pandemic

20 children from Friarage Community Primary School and their parents took part in a family event at the Stephen Joseph Theatre as part of a three-day-long NewsWise festival in the North Yorkshire Coast. The festival complemented the wider roll-out of the NewsWise programme across the country. 

To find out more about NewsWise and to register your interest in taking part, please visit: https://theguardianfoundation.org/programmes/newswise.

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