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Empower: a critical media literacy programme

Empower logo - new

What is Empower?

In a year marked by unprecedented global elections, with over half of the world's population heading to the polls, strong digital media literacy skills have never been more crucial.

Empower (11-14, KS3)

Our Empower programme, delivered in over 150 schools to more than 1,700 students, is specifically tailored for girls aged 11 to 14 in alternative provision or those at risk of exclusion from mainstream education.

Empower aims to cultivate the skills, knowledge, and resilience necessary for students to enhance their critical literacy skills, effectively engage with online media, discern misinformation and disinformation, and express their perspectives safely in the digital realm.

Our Empower programme is now full for Summer 2024. You can still register to deliver in September or you may be interested in our key stage 4 programme below.

Click here to register your school.

Coming June 2024! Empower for KS4

This programme will develop students' media literacy skills whilst supporting them to undertake the Spoken Language element of GCSE English Language. You can register now for our new programme which will launch after May half term with training on 4 June.

Sign up now!

Our Empower critical media literacy programme offers mainstream secondary schools and alternative provision settings the chance to support the critical media literacy skills of girls and young women who have been excluded from, or who are at risk of being excluded from, mainstream education.

Online environments have become integral to the lives of many young people, with almost half of 10 to 15-year-olds in England and Wales spending three or more hours online on a typical school day (ONS, 2021). During this time, young people encounter not only information but also disinformation.

As a response to this growing challenge, our Empower programme aims to equip students with the skills they need to navigate the online world. After completing the programme students reported greater critical engagement when evaluating the credibility of news stories than they had before taking part. They were also better equipped to identify misinformation.

We found that after 10 sessions -

  • The percentage of students able to identify two out of three examples of online news stories correctly as either real or fake more than doubled from 23.61% to 54.5%
  • Almost three times as many students said they checked whether a news source was one they trusted (23.6% to 69.7%)
  • The average number of checks made by each student increased from 1.7 to 3.22
  • Before taking part, a high percentage of students labelled news stories from regulated sources (e.g. broadsheet UK newspapers, BBC/Sky website) as fake news (43.3%). This fell to 22.8% in the post-programme survey.

Thanks to funding from the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), we are able to offer Empower to settings in England for free.

Registration is now closed for Summer 2024. However you can register your school to take part next year.

Our Empower critical media literacy programme continues our existing work in alternative provision settings, you may also find the following programmes of interest:

How it works

Empower is a 10-session programme that aims to give students the tools to make more informed choices on the internet. Content will support leaders to differentiate, acknowledging the wide range of abilities often found in these settings. Online training will be provided for all teachers, teaching assistants or librarians taking part in the delivery of the programme.

What are the aims?

Empower has four main objectives:

  • Empower young women and girls to make more informed choices online, allowing them to leverage the power of the internet
  • Improve participants’ confidence to read, critically analyse and discuss online news and media
  • Increase participants’ resilience to recognise misinformation and disinformation
  • Improve girls’ communication skills

Who is it for?

The programme is aimed at students aged 11 to 14 who are in alternative provision (either in internal units in a mainstream school or at a specialist centre) or who are in mainstream education but are at risk of exclusion. We understand that due to the nature of these settings running a female-only group can be difficult. Therefore, while this group would be an excellent demographic for delivery, we support the idea of opening the programme to mixed groups, as these are important skills for all.

What do I get?

Each setting will receive:

  • Training (online)
  • A resource pack for each cohort, including workbooks and PowerPoints with teaching notes
  • A set of books for each cohort of participants
  • Access to bespoke events with authors and influencers

When do I run it?

Each of the 10 sessions is designed to last for one hour. They can be delivered as part of an intervention strategy or during PSHE or English lessons.

How do I access it?

Registration is now closed for Summer 2024. Please click here to register your school for next year.