MPs form group to safeguard children from fake news
The Student View has assembled a group of politicans to reform online safety teaching in schools
Only half of teachers have heard of the Government’s guidance to keep children safe from fake news according to a new survey published today (Tuesday 24th November).
Award-winning media literacy charity The Student View has assembled a group of politicians in response to these findings to reform online safety teaching in schools.
Newly released research from Teacher Tapp about the government’s “Teaching online safety in schools” guidance found after asking more than 6,500 teachers:
- 47% of teachers have never heard of the government’s guidance
- 14% of schools have implemented recommendations from the government’s guidance across the curriculum
- 5% of headteachers regularly assess the effectiveness of this guidance
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Media Literacy, which was formed today (Tuesday 24th November), will commission an independent inquiry into the teaching of media literacy skills in schools with evidence gathering beginning from January 2021.
Parliamentarians, from across the political spectrum, will take evidence from witnesses and work with industry leaders, regulators and businesses to produce a universally agreed skills framework to position the UK as the world leader in media literacy education.
The group, which includes MPs and Peers from Labour, Conservative and Scottish National Party, will support, challenge and monitor the government’s media literacy strategy to ensure school teachers and children have the critical thinking skills needed to survive in the age of mass misinformation.
Their plans include establishing an agreed definition of media literacy and ensuring high-quality media literacy training is available for schoolchildren and teachers in the proposed Online Harms Bill.
The APPG is chaired by Damian Collins MP, the former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee between October 2016 and January 2020.
Damian Collins MP said: “I strongly believe that we need to promote digital and media literacy as a fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, writing and maths, so that children and young adults can identify sites that they can trust or are safe, appraise the content of what they read, and make informed choices about news they share with others.
“With the Government moving forward on Online Harms legislation, I think we have a golden opportunity to set out standards for a nation-wide media literacy strategy.”
Award-winning media literacy charity The Student View, which trains teenagers across the UK how to spot misinformation and become local news reporters, will serve as the group’s secretariat.
Chief Executive of The Student View Solomon Elliott said: “Disinformation is a problem that affects us all, cross-party action is vital to make the UK the safest place to be online.
“We have seen in our workshops how carving out some time in the school calendar for digital literacy gives students the critical thinking tools they need to distinguish fact from fiction and a fighting chance to navigate this challenging reality.”
The Officers, who have a wide range of knowledge and experiences, are:
- Chair – Damian Collins MP, Conservative Party
- Co-Chair – The Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, Crossbench Life Peer
- Vice-Chair – The Right Honourable Damian Hinds MP, Conservative Party
- Vice-Chair – John Nicolson MP, Scottish National Party
- Vice-Chair – Siobhain McDonagh MP, Labour Party
- Vice-Chair – The Rt Hon. the Lord Knight of Weymouth, Labour Party
Notes to editors
Findings of the Teacher Tapp survey are available on demand. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, methodology below:
Teacher Tapp is a mobile app that asks teachers in England three questions each day at 3:30pm. Analysis in these tables is restricted to those teachers with a valid school identifier and key information. The sample is reweighted to ensure it reflects the national population of teachers in terms of: the type of school they teach at; their geographical region; their gender and age; their job role.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Media Literacy is a cross-party forum for parliamentarians to discuss how to equip young people and wider society with the critical thinking skills needed today. The APPG will look to work with industry, regulators and businesses to put forward positive proposals for change.
The APPG on Media Literacy tackles these three problems:
- There is no universally agreed definition of media literacy
Ofcom’s working definition is “the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts.” It is vitally important to ensure children and adults have the media literacy skills necessary to survive in this age of mass misinformation.
- School teachers, children and young people do not have the media skills needed to survive in the age of mass misinformation
Research commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy in 2018 found that: 98% of 8 – 16 year olds in the UK cannot tell the difference between a real and fake news story.
- Online misinformation leads to offline harms
Across the UK, over 70 phone masts have been vandalised because of false rumours that 5G mobile phone technology is a cause of coronavirus.
Effective from January 2021, the APPG on Media Literacy will:
- Take evidence from witnesses
- Establish an agreed definition of media literacy
- Ensure high-quality media literacy training is statutory for schoolchildren and teachers in the proposed Online Harms Bill
- Work with the group’s stakeholders to produce a universally agreed skills framework to position the UK as the world leader in media literacy education