Primary schools are being asked to trial lessons in identifying ‘fake news’

The battle against fake news is about to make its way into classrooms, as primary schools are sought for a pilot scheme to teach children how to critically analyse online information.

The News Wise programme wants to see “news literacy” included in the school curriculum, beginning with pilots to teach children in years five and six how to access, navigate, analyse and participate in the news.

Initially focusing on primary schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged children, the programme will create an evidence-based model on how best to introduce news literacy to primary school curriculums.

It’s never been more important to incorporate critical thinking about the news into the curriculum

Developed jointly by the Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PHSE Association, the project will be funded by Google for its first year with the pilot launching this autumn.

For Google, this is part of its efforts to combat “misinformation” and support “high-quality journalism”.

According to Jonathan Baggaley, the chief executive of the PSHE Association, the work will ensure teachers and schools receive “high-quality training and support” to help children learn how to “spot misinformation, identify persuasion in communication and distinguish fact from opinion”.

“The increased use of social media and the impact of online news on our democracies and societies mean that it’s never been more important to empower children and incorporate critical thinking about the news into the curriculum,” said Ben Hicks, the Guardian Foundation’s executive director.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, warned that children who aren’t able to question the reliability of information online “will be hamstrung – at school, at work and in life”.

“We will help children develop the critical literacy skills they need to survive and thrive in a digital world,” he added.

Primary schools can register their interest in taking part in the pilot by clicking here.

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