At Linton Mead Primary in southeast London, student Peace, 11, is engrossed in an email from a council informant who fears losing their job should they share more information. Another student, Emma, is curious to know why the council is issuing fines of £2,500 to the homeless. “There might be a reason," she says, while her classmate Raheema deems the fines wrong, and predicts readers will be shocked by the treatment of homeless people by Oxford City Council. The students are taking on the roles of reporters as part of a Guardian Foundation project to teach fact-checking, the separation of fact from fiction and bias from balance. With children’s wellbeing in mind, the project is designed to foster literary and critical thinking skills. The Newswise project, being launched nationally this autumn, is a partnership between The Guardian Foundation, Google, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association.
For any reader seeking to evaluate the objectivity of a news report, it’s a pertinent concern. The fact that this student was able to introspect and acknowledge her emotional response when tasked with reporting on a topic close to her heart is commendable.
Initially slated to run for a year, Newswise has aspirations of stretching its wings and turning into a five-year program. Pitt’s goal is to instill a sense of contemplation in children – to encourage them to pause and ponder before sharing any information. He hopes to arm them with the necessary tools to question and verify the information they come across.