As our young people head back to school, it’s important that they continue to develop the key skills of media literacy – resilience, empathy, creativity, communication and critical thinking. So, I’m pleased to be able to share information from our partner, First News Education, whose Creating News Reading Communities school resource has been built specifically to help teachers boost their students’ news literacy skills, enabling them to navigate today’s media landscape with confidence.

At First News, their fundamental belief is that, if the world is to become a better place, the next generation has to be better informed than the last. Since their launch in 2006, they’ve been committed to publishing unbiased, non-partisan news written especially for 7-13 year olds and their school resources further that mission by developing kids’ ability to identify fact, opinion and bias, and to tell the reliable news from the fake.

An independent evaluation by the National Literacy Trust, found pupils made significantly more reading progress than expected and a particular improvement in their inference and deduction skills when classes used First News’ resources as part of their regular curriculum. First News worked with the NLT to develop a resource pack enabling teachers to harness the benefits of news reading in their classroom community.  These activities are designed to make it easy for you to introduce news reading to your pupils and, ultimately, to encourage these students to become regular news readers.

A newspaper is a unique type of non-fiction text that exposes children to a wide range of topics, opinions, issues and types of information, on a regular schedule. Reading a newspaper takes them on a journey around the world, increasing their understanding of different places, people and ways of life. Along the way, they encounter stories from all areas of the curriculum.

Young people enjoy the element of choice involved in reading news, meaning they read it for pleasure as well as for information, and they particularly love to be informed about the world around them. The effort needed is relatively low due to the concise style of writing; even reluctant readers can access and enjoy reading news from just a few short paragraphs.

Recent world events mean that primary-aged children have begun discussing news in the playground. This, alongside the rise of social media, means the need to question and analyse the information we come across has never been more important. Primary pupils need to understand how news is put together, the difference between reliable and unreliable sources and to build up critical media literacy skills before they have unguided access to the internet.

Bringing news into the classroom supports children to consider controversial topics and understand different points of view. It also provides a chance to discuss any misunderstandings or worries they have in a structured, safe setting.

Sign up now to receive First News’ Creating News Reading Communities email taster course and harness the power of news reading in your classroom this autumn term.

Good luck with the new school year and we hope you enjoy these fantastic resources from First News!

Best wishes

Rachel Barber-Mack

Director of Media Smart

P.S. Did you know we have 11 FREE resources for educators, parents and guardians? Including lessons, films and guides on Body Image, Social Media,  Influencer Marketing, Piracy & IP, Creative Careers, TikTok and Instagram.

Here are a few of the latest ones available for you to download and share today…

How to Spot Greenwashing

For 11-17 yrs | Key stage 3, 4 & 5

Greenwashing is when companies use marketing to appear more environmentally friendly than they are. And according to the UK Government, 40% of ‘green’ claims made online could be misleading.

With our unique focus on advertising literacy, we have invaluable insights from young people on this topic and Media Smart is delighted to announce that we’ve created a simple five-point guide and short film which can be shared in the classroom, assembly or at home explaining what greenwashing is… so young people can spot it, report it and ultimately help to stop it.

TikTok: Adverts, Creators and You

For 13-17 yrs / Secondary school / Key stage 3, 4 & 5 / + SEND version

This exciting, film-based educational resource, featuring successful TikTok Creators, will empower 13-17 year-olds with the tools they need to navigate TikTok’s commercial side, ensuring they have the most positive online experience possible. It should also assist teachers, parents and carers who want to supplement their own knowledge to help young people confidently and securely use the platform.

Influencer Marketing

For 11-14 yrs / Secondary school / Key stage 3

Media Smart’s latest resource is aimed at helping teens understand the commercial link between social influencers and the brands they may be promoting. The rising number of social influencers in young people’s lives has prompted us to create a film-based PSHE teaching resource, the first of its kind to tackle this area of marketing.

How to manage your online advert experience

For 11-16 yrs / Secondary school / Key stage 3

In this new resource, we feature an animated film and classroom materials to support pupil discussions around interest-based advertising, why it exists, and how young people can best manage it. Students may be surprised to learn that this sort of advertising funds so many of the free platforms they use every day, from apps and websites to search engines.

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