Developing critical learners in the digital age – Bett 2019 talk resources

Here is a summary pdf of the talk and a link to watch the full talk on our Vimeo channel. Find all the links and other resources below (with some extra links to recently published reports).

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Resources and links to accompany our talk

Video clips shown in the talk

Fact or fake: developing critical learners in the digital age

How do children make sense of their digital life both in school and out? And how do we as adults navigate our own pathway through the forest of fact, fiction, fanaticism and fantasy and guide our pupils by appealing to fun rather than fear

Drawing on our teaching experience and work with a wide range of partners, we will explore some practical ways to engage children in critical evaluation of digital information in a range of contexts, supporting their learning and development both as consumers and creators of content of all kinds, fact and fiction included.


More on digital criticality below…

What is digital criticality?

Digital criticality is having the skills to make a critical evaluation of digital information in a range of contexts, whether that’s a story from a news organisation, a tweet, an image or a YouTube video.

Why is it important now?

Having the skills to be critical about information that’s encountered online has never been more important. The digital world is increasingly complex with more channels and more sophisticated technology that can make it harder to distinguish between fact and opinion – or even outright fake. You’re also more likely to come across ‘fake news’ – and spread it – with research showing that fake news reaches users up to 20 times faster than factual content.

Recent key findings from the recent National literacy Trust Fake News Commission are worrying:

  • Only 2% of children have the critical literacy skills they need to tell if a news story is real or fake.
  • Half of children (49.9%) are worried about not being able to spot fake news.
  • Two-thirds of children (60.6%) now trust the news less as a result of fake news.
  • Two-thirds of teachers (60.9%) believe fake news is harming children’s well-being, increasing their anxiety levels.
  • Half of teachers (53.5%) believe that the national curriculum does not equip children with the literacy skills they need to identify fake news.

We believe that enabling and empowering critical and discerning learners is an essential activity for the classroom, not a bolt-on option.



Sessions for teachers and in school support and workshops: please contact us on [email protected]


Digital literacy

In the fourth episode of our podcast series, presenter Julia Lawrence and expert guests tackle this very topical issue and suggest a wide range of useful resources for teachers and parents.

Look out for our upcoming podcasts this year where we will explore other aspects of this topic.

Blog posts

What is digital literacy and what’s it got to do with fake news?

As London CLC announces a new digital literacy collaboration with First News and the Guardian Foundation, Peter Lillington explores what exactly literacy means in a digital world.

What is news literacy and how do you teach it?

Peter Lillington explores this hot topic and recommends some new resources to help you teach it in the classroom.

Fake news: helping children to untangle the web

London CLC director Sarah Horrocks examines the rise in concern around fake news and critical literacy and considers whether primary schoolchildren are equipped to spot the spoofs.

Explore further

We’ve left some of our favourites here but please make sure you have checked out the links that accompany our January BETT talk (see elsewhere on this page)


Funded by Google, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Guardian Foundation and the PSHE Association, NewsWise is a free, cross-curricular news literacy project for 9 to 11-year-olds across the UK. It helps teachers empower pupils to access, understand, analyse and participate in the news.

National Literacy Trust Fake News group

Fake news and critical literacy: final report – including the findings of the Commission’s primary, secondary and teachers surveys about fake news

Education for a Connected World Framework – a tool focusing on eight different areas of online education

Digital Literacy scheme of work from SWGfL – free materials designed to empower pupils and students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world

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Does your school need a sustained programme in the use of digital technology to underpin your whole school aims and plans?

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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