She may not have long left in the top job but Theresa May has made one significant addition to the Downing Street diary that I hope her successors will retain. The “Kids’ PMQs” slot, which the Prime Minister has agreed to do each fortnight for the groundbreaking children’s television news show FYI, is a landmark step in helping the school-age population better understand the world it will inherit. Suddenly, children’s news is making enormous strides. iNews reports.
The fastest-growing news magazine in Britain is The Week Junior, aimed at “curious, smart eight- to 14-year-olds”. Inspired by the digest format of parent title The Week, the children’s magazine has expanded its circulation by 29 per cent in the past year to 59,266 copies. First News, a newspaper targeting seven- to 14-year-olds, is now being taken by nearly 10,000 British schools. Copies are so enthusiastically shared by pupils that it has an audited readership of nearly 2.3 million.
FYI, which launched this month on Sky News and Sky Kids, is linked to First News and is the first television news show for children in the UK since the BBC launched Newsround in 1972. Teachers are also seeing the value of a news-literate classroom. Yorkshire-based Picture News, founded by former primary school teacher Katie Harrison, creates classroom learning tools from powerful news images taken by the picture agency Rex. The service has been taken up in 1,500 schools.
Today’s schoolchildren are the first to grow up entirely in the age of social media. Whereas primary schools might once have been seen as havens from the turmoil of adult life, the all-pervasive modern news media now intrudes on playground conversation like never before. The constant chatter around incendiary themes such as Brexit, the Trump presidency, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and terror attacks is having a marked impact on children’s anxiety levels.
When the paper First News began in 2006, social media was in its infancy. Editor and founder Nicky Cox says the paper began as a “nice to have”, helping parents to encourage children to take more interest in the world. “Now there feels like there is an absolute need for it,” she says.
The Friday paper is compiled by 12 journalists and is supported by iHub, a digital resource for teachers. Cox says readers are drawn to the print edition, which accounts for the great bulk of its 80,000 circulation (split between schools and domestic readers). “I think adults still feel the novelty of screens,” she says. “But kids have grown up with technology and having something physical in their hands is the novelty.”
How often do you use current news articles in your classroom? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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