September 23, 2023

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A brand new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice?

A brand new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice?

A brand new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice?Bournemouth’s Professor Julian McDougall, head of the college’s Centre for Excellence in Media Follow, assesses the findings and suggestions of a report from the All-Get together Parliamentary Group on Media Literacy, which requires a brand new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice.

In late March, I attended and wrote a few Westminster Discussion board internet occasion on Subsequent steps for tackling faux information and enhancing media literacy. There, LSE’s Sonia Livingstone reminded attendees of the fluid and dynamic nature of media literacy and the necessity for it to facilitate deeper, crucial understanding of media versus what I name a solutionist rhetoric. Sonia lamented the absence of a shared analysis framework, citing a current examine by her LSE colleague Lee Edwards and likewise stressing her concern, shared by all of us working in media schooling, that the UK Authorities’s On-line Security Invoice is basically ignoring schooling. Addressing the ‘data dysfunction’ requires not simply regulation and on-line assets however, as I’ll talk about right here, a transparent academic coverage.

In April, the All-Get together Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Media Literacy printed a report into the media literacy panorama in England, which concludes by recommending a brand new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice as an pressing precedence for presidency:

Introduce a Media Literacy Schooling Invoice to drive the implementation of media literacy schooling in academic institutions consulting kids and younger folks on their experiences of media literacy schooling.

Nevertheless, the context for that is necessary, lest we increase our hopes too excessive, too quickly. An APPG is an off-the-cuff cross-party coalition of back-bench MPs and Lords who look right into a coverage challenge and make suggestions to authorities however haven’t any official standing inside parliament, and this could be why no point out was made from this work on the discussion board occasion, and likewise why it won’t go additional. We will see.

Report findings and key suggestions

The APPG’s doc assesses academics’ perceptions of scholars’ media literacy, with 52{4d1962118177784b99a3354f70d01b62c0ba82c6c697976a768b451038a0f9ce} judging this to be missing of their college students, and reporting that solely 7{4d1962118177784b99a3354f70d01b62c0ba82c6c697976a768b451038a0f9ce} of colleges take into account media literacy to be part of their citizenship curriculum. The group conclude with a set of suggestions, motivated by way of this new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice, together with a media literacy lead in each college to supervise the combination of media literacy into the nationwide curriculum.

Within the element of the report, the APPG has recognized the issues we within the media schooling group have lengthy been conscious of. These embody the small numbers of scholars taking GCSE Media Research (round 20,000) and the absence of media literacy within the citizenship curriculum. The connection between these domains has been assessed in depth by Gianfranco Polizzi on this weblog.

However – bizarrely, for my part – the advice is for each the GCSE Media Research studying goal for college students to “develop and apply their understanding of the media by way of each analysing and producing media merchandise” and the Key Stage 4 component of Computing which goals to “develop their functionality, creativity and information in digital media” to be positioned as a substitute within the English curriculum. How English itself would should be reformed to accommodate this isn’t inside the scope of the report which recommends:

Combine core on-line media literacy expertise comparable to fact- checking, the creation of digital media and the ideas of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation inside the English nationwide curriculum and differentiate these expertise for learners of all ages.

A greater plan can be to reform the Media Research curriculum to be extra straight aligned with the imperatives of media literacy within the digital ecosystem and make this a compulsory topic in each college.

In any other case, there may be an inherent contradiction in, on the identical time, lastly recognising the pressing vitality of media literacy for each youngster in each college while hiding it away inside English. The problematic cultural politics with regard to integrating media inside English have been addressed greater than as soon as, most just lately right here by Steve Connolly.

The report’s diagnoses are necessary and sobering, however hardly shocking. The affect of the DfE’s non-statutory steering on misinformation is minimal – 47{4d1962118177784b99a3354f70d01b62c0ba82c6c697976a768b451038a0f9ce} of academics had not heard of it, solely 14{4d1962118177784b99a3354f70d01b62c0ba82c6c697976a768b451038a0f9ce} of colleges have carried out the suggestions. The brand new On-line Media Literacy Technique, with its allocation of funding to the stakeholders recognized by the mapping train, and schooling, on-line security invoice and proposed laws are included within the APPG report, however with no clear sense of any of this being ‘joined up’ with the suggestions right here for schooling.

Additional suggestions

The important thing suggestion is for this new Media Literacy Schooling Invoice to replace the curriculum, as detailed above, but additionally:

  • To rework trainer coaching and CPD with particular media literacy elements (that is one thing we will all get behind.)
  • A tradition and ethos change to incorporate extra connection between the web security invoice and faculty management technique; the aforementioned lead in every college for ML, but additionally a collaboration between Ofcom and Ofsted to “replace the college inspection framework to increase the safeguarding duties of colleges to incorporate making affordable efforts to coach kids to be media literate and protected on-line.”
  • A media literacy toolkit is to be produced for the DCMS portal; all academic institutions are to have a media literacy coverage and funding ought to be allotted to help mother and father, households, media organisations and wider society.
  • There’s additionally a route for Ofcom to replace their definition to incorporate ‘greater order pondering expertise’ and for a UK Media Literacy discussion board to “collaborate with world strategic companions just like the European Fee, U.S. Division of State and UNESCO.”

The dangers of solutionism

These proposed interventions in faculties are located as one a part of a broader ‘pathway to constructing stronger disinformation resilience’. The solutionist rhetoric is, in fact, one other case of beginning out from the improper place.

As David Buckingham wrote in 2017 about the concept that media literacy is the reply to ‘faux information’:

This argument clearly frames media literacy as a protectionist enterprise, a sort of prophylactic. It oversimplifies the issue it purports to deal with, overstates the affect of media on younger folks and underestimates the complexity of media schooling.

This has been additionally argued, from an proof base of many years of analysis, on my own and lots of others comparable to Sonia Livingstone, Steve Connolly and the Media Schooling Affiliation, our personal work in CEMP.

Though there may be reference to artistic engagement with media and significant studying of media within the broader sense within the report, media literacy tends to be seen – because it does within the present authorities technique – as focussed on the web and resilience to misinformation as an ‘on-line hurt’, versus the extra holistic, agentive and dynamic method to the makes use of of media literacy for optimistic change, which the analysis and schooling communities argue for, together with UNESCO, primarily based on many years of analysis. This latter method addresses the paradox that unhealthy media ecosystems should not brought on by a scarcity of media literacies a lot because the poisonous makes use of of them.


We are able to lament the shortage of joined up pondering, the absence of any recognized, significant session with media literacy analysis communities and the way in which that the reductive and protectionist, regulatory framing of the web media literacy technique will almost definitely be repeated right here.  However to conclude, the core discovering – that UK faculties are not educating kids to have interaction critically with media – is correct, and welcome. Likewise, the core suggestion – that each college ought to be mandated to coach kids about media. And there’s no argument in anyway in opposition to the introduction of a Media Literacy Schooling Invoice and the issues it will mobilise – trainer coaching, a useful resource toolkit and the inclusion of media literacy in how faculties are assessed.

Nevertheless, whether or not this occurs inside English (as proposed), by way of a brand new Media Literacy topic and qualification or by way of a reform of what’s already there (making Media Research a compulsory topic) is essential. To advise authorities on the urgency of tasking the DfE with the implementation of a Media Literacy Schooling invoice while on the identical time hiding the instructing and studying of media literacy away inside English, is contradictory. Media literacy must be realized by each youngster at school as a core, discrete curriculum. This might be welcomed by mother and father, college students themselves and the vast majority of college leaders, I’m certain. Something much less is a missed alternative.

This text displays the views of the writer and never these of the Media@LSE weblog nor of the London Faculty of Economics and Political Science.

Featured picture: Picture by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash