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Empower: a critical media literacy programme


What is Empower?

Empower is our new programme designed for girls aged 11 to 14 in alternative provision. The programme will develop the skills, knowledge and resilience that students need to build their critical literacy skills, engage with and understand online media, recognise misinformation and disinformation, and articulate their world views safely in the online environment.

Please note: after an overwhelming response, our autumn cohort is now full. We are currently recruiting for third cohort of schools. This cohort will run from January 2024.

Sample books and study materials

According to the Office for National Statistics, online environments are an integral part of the lives of many young people. Surveys indicate that almost half of 10 to 15-year-olds in England and Wales spend three or more hours online on a typical school day (ONS, 2021). During that time, young people encounter not only information but disinformation.

Continuing our existing work in alternative provision settings, Game Changers and Represent, this new 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.

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

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 with the texts and teaching notes
  • A set of books for each cohort of participants
  • Access to bespoke events with authors

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 English lessons.

How do I access it?

Registration is now open for Spring 2024. Please click here to register your school.