Young boy writing in a worksheet

NewsWise in Primary Education: News and Digital Literacy, and Civic Engagement

We live in an age in which online misinformation and public mistrust in institutions undermine democracy, which relies on a well-informed citizenry that is able to evaluate the validity of news and information. Such an ability requires lifelong skills and knowledge – referred to as news and digital literacy.

Research has found that many children, especially when socio-economically disadvantaged, lack news and digital skills and knowledge. At the same time, growing research shows that school interventions based on delivering news and digital literacy programmes contribute to pupils’ ability to evaluate information and, in turn, to their civic engagement, understood as involvement, and/or the intention to participate, in community and/or political life.

Building on this research, this project, which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and running until March 2024, evaluates the impact of a news and digital literacy programme (i.e. NewsWise) on UK primary school children’s news and digital literacy and civic engagement.

Undertaken in consultation with the National Literacy Trust, the evaluation is led by Dr Tom Harrison from the University of Birmingham together with Dr Gianfranco Polizzi from the University of Liverpool. Meanwhile, the NewsWise programme is run by the Guardian Foundation alongside the PSHE Association.

NewsWise is a UNESCO-awarded UK cross-curricular news literacy programme for 9-11-year-olds running since 2018. Both a randomised clustered controlled trial and interviews are utilised in combination to evaluate the extent to which the programme may be effective in increasing 9-11-year-olds’ news and digital literacy and civic engagement in the UK.

The aim of the project is to contribute to a generation of children who are better equipped to participate in society as well-informed citizens.

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