How schools can combat fake news through critical literacy

The Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools, published its Fake news and critical literacy: final report yesterday. It is a must-read for teachers and school leaders, writes Sarah Horrocks, director of London Connected Learning Centre.

Key findings are that only 2% of children aged 5-16 have the critical literacy skills they need to tell if a news story is real or fake, half are worried about not being able to spot fake news and two-thirds now trust the news less as a result of fake news.

We encourage children to learn to question what they see – whether it’s a photoshopped image or an unofficial website  pretending to be the ‘real’ one – and start to unpick the layers of truth and reliability they come across online.


At London CLC we recognise these findings from our work with schools, where we tackle critical literacy and help children navigate the online world with a critical eye.

While online safety has long been a key topic, over the past couple of years we’ve been urging schools to incorporate a broader focus on digital citizenship and criticality of information. We run a number of professional learning sessions for teachers and headteachers alerting them of the growing crisis around social media and political manipulation, and the duty of schools to prepare young people with the critical literacy skills they need to function safely and effectively in an online world.

Our Fake News workshops with primary school children are particularly important right now. In those workshops, through discussion, we encourage children to learn to question what they see – whether it’s a photoshopped image or an unofficial website  pretending to be the ‘real’ one – and start to unpick the layers of truth and reliability they come across online. A key feature of our workshops is enabling children to create their own spoof news stories using HTML, demonstrating just how easy it is to publish something that can look convincing.

We’re delighted to see that our Fake News workshops fulfil all of the Commission’s five recommendations in the report: that children

  • Be given opportunities to practise their critical literacy skills in real-life digital environments.
  • Understand how the news is made in order to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to spot fake news stories.
  • Be encouraged and supported to talk about the news they read at home and with their peers.
  • Have the critical literacy skills they need to navigate the digital world and question the information they find online.
  • Have the right to access accurate news from trustworthy media companies and have opportunities to discuss and contextualise them.

At London CLC we encourage all teachers and school leaders to read Fake news and critical literacy: final report, to check out the great critical literacy resources for teachers on the National Literacy Trust site and find out more about our Fake News workshops.

  • For more detail on London CLC’s professional learning sessions around critical literacy skills and fake news, please contact James Goddard: [email protected]
  • For expert comment on the Commission on Fake News report and teaching critical literacy in schools, please contact Sarah Horrocks: [email protected]


Join our
mailing list

Sign up for the London CLC newsletter and get the best connected learning news and views in your inbox every week.

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

Our support package covers the following:

Professional learning

Teacher professional development which puts digital at the heart of teaching and learning

Pupil workshops

Engaging, practical workshops for your class, in your school, at our Clapham centre online

Creative technology projects

Engaging, immersive educational experiences with corporate and cultural partners

Consultancy & advice

Get tailored support from our expert team of teachers and technologists

Technology loans

Kit for every classroom

Book a call
with James

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.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By visiting, you accept our use of cookies.