Chris Elmore MP attended an event in parliament last night to support the launch of the Children’s Charter on Fake News – a new set of rights for UK children around fake news. Mr Elmore was interviewed at the event about fake news by pupils from a secondary school in his constituency.
The charter was developed by the Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools following its year-long inquiry into the impact of fake news on children and young people in the UK. The commission, which is run by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and the National Literacy Trust, found that:
Only 2% of children and young people in the UK have the critical literacy skills they need to tell if a news story is real or fake 
Half of young people (50%) are worried about not being able to spot fake news
Two-thirds of teachers (60.9%) believe fake news is harming children’s well-being by increasing their anxiety levels, damaging self-esteem and skewing their world view
The charter aims to tackle these challenges by setting out the steps needed to update the teaching of critical literacy skills for the digital age. Young people told the commission that they ultimately want more opportunities to talk about news relevant to their lives at school and at home.
At the event, year 8 pupils Lucy and Isobel from Maesteg School in Bridgend got the opportunity to put their journalistic skills to the test, as part of the BBC’s School Report initiative. On their very first trip to the Houses of Parliament, they shared their experiences of fake news with their local MP, Chris Elmore, and interviewed him about what can be done to support them. They also got the chance to interview national journalist and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, who delivered the key note speech at the event.
Hannah Jenkins, teacher at Maesteg School, said: “Maesteg School knows the huge importance of critical literacy skills to help children and young people to have the confidence to engage with the news and not be misled by fake news. We were delighted to attend the National Literacy Trust’s parliamentary event in Westminster this week, where our year 8 pupils, Lucy and Isobel, met and interviewed Chris Elmore MP and Mariella Frostrup for BBC School Report.”
Chris Elmore MP said: “We all have role to play in equipping children with the skills they need to survive and thrive in our digital world. The commission paints a troubling picture – children in the UK are encountering more fake news than ever before but they don’t have the critical literacy skills they need to spot it. This is leaving them vulnerable to the often malign intentions of fake news and is having a damaging impact on their well-being. I want every child in Bridgend to have the critical literacy skills they need to feel confident about accessing, analysing and evaluation the information they find online.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “We welcome Chris Elmore’s support for strengthening children’s rights around fake news. The way children experience news is changing rapidly, yet our commission shows that the critical literacy skills children need to keep up. Indeed, only 2% of children are able to critically appraise a news story and work out whether it’s real or fake. If we don’t take urgent action to address this skills gap, by helping children develop the skills and knowledge they need to confidently navigate, analyse and assess the validity of news, we risk the well-being and democratic futures of an entire generation of children.”
The National Literacy Trust has published a series of fake news and critical literacy resources and posters for teachers, school librarians and children, as well as a top tips guide for parents: https://literacytrust.org.uk/fake-news-resources.
To find out more about BBC School Report, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport