What is news literacy and how do you teach it?

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

In September we wrote about and podcasted about the place of digital literacy in computing and the wider curriculum, and highlighted our participation in a newly formed News Literacy Network with national partners such as the Guardian Foundation, the Economist Education Foundation, the PSHE Association, First News, The Day and other providers. In this post, we will highlight some useful resources from partners in this group.

But just a moment, what is this ‘news literacy’ – are we in danger of multiplying literacies? How is it distinct from other parts of the curriculum? And is it, or should it be part of the curriculum?

Making sense of the world

News literacy is all about children, young people (and indeed adults) making sense of the world around them now, understanding events that have just taken place or that are unfolding now.

These may be very local or personal, or they may be national and international. We’d like to say there is a moral and ethical aspect of news literacy too – it’s about establishing what’s true and valuing it as a crucial way to empower ourselves as citizens and active and positive participants in society, right now, and in the future, young and old alike.

Making sense of news

So it’s also about understanding how we can check and validate news, and separate facts from supposition or opinion, so we know we’ve got to the truth, or as close as we can. It is also knowing that some providers of news have people and processes to make this happen, so may be far more likely to be reliable than other informal sources such as an individual person.

It encompasses children learning to read and make sense of news (as consumers, through whatever channel), but also learning to write and communicate news. At its best this will be in a way that is clear in meaning, well-written in terms of language, style and audience, appropriate to the medium being used, but which also presents facts as opposed to opinions or rumours, and is fair.

A number of providers are producing resources to help with News Literacy.

From the partnership between the National Literacy Trust, the Guardian Foundation, and the PSHE Association, and funded by Google, NewsWise is a free, cross-curricular news literacy project for 9 to 11-year-olds across the UK. It helps teachers empower their Key Stage 2 pupils to navigate the news.

Resources to definitely check out include a unit of work with lesson plans, and learning journey, the Newswise Values Poster (‘News should be truthful, fair, balanced, interesting: these values are designed to enable pupils to judge the trustworthiness of information as well as to produce powerful stories themselves’), the Newswise Navigator and Notes for Parents.

The National Literacy Trust on behalf of the News Literacy network group has compiled a primary and secondary flowchart with links for supporting the teaching critical literacy and fake news – we are delighted to feature as a provider of workshops. You can access further classroom resources from First News, Childnet, The Guardian Education Centre, MediaSmart, The Day and BBC Newsround on this page from the Primary Resources link.

Workshops and talks

At our Computing Conference on 5 December attendees will be able to participate in a short workshop from Nicolette Smallshaw, head of education at First News, the children’s newspaper. And make a note in your diary for our online safety conference on 16 January when we will be considering news literacy and online safety implications.

Finally, returning to the broader area of digital criticality, we are delighted and excited to announce that London CLC team will be in the BETT Arena on Friday 25 January 13:30 -14:00 giving a talk on Developing critical learners in the digital classroom.

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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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