Families trained as fake news detectives at NewsWise festival

29 Jan 2020
Pupils from Meadows Primary School and their parents meet Stoke Sentinel journalist at NewsWise festival (1).jpg

Children from Years 4,5 and 6 at Meadows Primary School took part in a family event yesterday alongside their parents, as part of the week-long NewsWise festival in Stoke-on-Trent.

NewsWise teamed up with Stoke Reads to run a series of activities and games designed to help families develop educational skills to identify false or misleading information and seek out quality news sources. Stoke Sentinel’s Education Reporter Kathie McInnes showed families how to look at news reports and assess how trustworthy they are.

One year five pupil said: “Today was really good because it was interactive and everyone got involved. It was fun coming up with headlines for stories and seeing how news is created."

One parent said: “I think today was a brilliant idea. It's good to teach children what to look out for, especially now there is more technology and a lot of things are questionable in this day and age. Hopefully next time my son will think first before believing something which could not be true"

The NewsWise festivals are an extension of the UNESCO award-winning NewsWise project, which was launched in 2018 by The Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association, and funded by Google, to equip children from disadvantaged communities with the skills and knowledge to engage with, challenge and enjoy news.

In 2020, NewsWise will take its festivals to towns and cities across the UK, delivering a week of fun and educational news literacy activities, including a family event, in-school workshops and teacher training sessions. Free curriculum-linked resources are also available to all UK primary schools, as well as top tips for parents to support their child’s news literacy at home: www.theguardian.com/newswise.

NewsWise created a UK tour of family workshops in response to recent research published by the National Literacy Trust revealing parents’ fears about the impact of fake news on their children’s lives and parents’ need for greater support to help their children understand the news [1]. The research found that:

  • Half of UK parents are worried about the impact of fake news and misinformation on their children’s lives (50%) and don’t think their children have the skills to spot it (52%)
  • 2 in 5 parents (40%) admitted to falling for fake news themselves
  • 2 in 5 parents (39%) never watch, listen to or read news with their child at home and 1 in 5 (21%) never talk to their child about news
  • Parents from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to never watch, listen to or read news with their children (45% vs 37%) and to believe their children don’t have the skills to spot fake news (52% vs 39%) than parents from more advantaged backgrounds

To reach the families most in need of support, the NewsWise festivals will take place in towns and cities across the UK with a high proportion of disadvantaged communities. Festivals will take place in several National Literacy Trust Hub areas, including Swindon, the North Yorkshire Coast and Bradford, as well as across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in London.

The festivals complement the wider roll-out of the NewsWise programme to 150 schools throughout the UK in 2019/20, aiming to support the news literacy skills of 8,000 7-11-year-olds.

Angie Pitt, Director of NewsWise at The Guardian Foundation, said: “We were delighted to provide children and teachers in Stoke-on-Trent with opportunities to understand news production, help them identify misinformation, bias, and opinion and seek out quality news sources.

"Thank you to the brilliant teachers and children at Meadows Primary School where we ran our workshop today, and to Kathie McInnes from the Stoke Sentinel who volunteered to lend us her valuable insight."

To find out more about NewsWise and to access free resources, activities and top tips for parents to support their child’s news literacy at home, visit: www.theguardian.com/newswise.