In today’s information-saturated age, the challenge of navigating the deluge of data, discerning fact from fiction, and developing a critical mindset has never been more pressing.

We are acutely aware of this challenge and have tailored our curriculum to prepare our Year 11 students at our Senior School in Shrewsbury for the complexities of the modern media landscape. This includes a focused programme on Critical Media Literacy for Year 11, ensuring they can navigate and analyse media critically and confidently. Drawing upon insights from the Girls’ Futures Research, our educational approach is designed not just to inform but to empower.

Empowering Through Education

Our curriculum is built on the foundation of critical media literacy, encouraging students to:

  • Question the reliability of various media sources.
  • Analyse content critically for bias and intent.
  • Evaluate information with a discerning eye.

The Girls’ Futures Research highlighted the significant role social media plays in the lives of young individuals, underscoring the need for critical engagement with media. It’s a world where “fake news” often blends seamlessly with truth, making media literacy an essential skill for our students.

At Shrewsbury High School we call this “Researching critically using the Internet”, “Evaluating others’ digital work”, and “Impact Technology on Society”– this is taught across the whole curriculum in all years including in Biology, Computer Science, DT, Latin, Drama, Geography, History, and RS

Practical Applications and Skills

In response to the insights gathered, our programme emphasises:

  • Using independent research and critically evaluating the sources in presentations
  • Using teacher provided resources to analyse content for bias and writer’s intent
  • Using AI resources to test knowledge and research and critically evaluating the “correctness” and the “bias” that is inherent in AI
  • From 2024 in Year 9 all students complete an AI awareness course (looking specifically at bias and validity of AI)
  • Workshops and Discussions: Engaging students in practical exercises to dissect news articles and social media posts, identifying instances of misinformation or bias.
  • Interaction with Media Professionals: Offering sessions with journalists and content creators to provide a real-world perspective on the challenges of maintaining integrity in today’s media environment.

The Importance of Debate and Discussion

  • Open dialogue is encouraged within our school walls, providing a platform for students to:
  • Express their viewpoints and critically engage with differing opinions.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of how misinformation can influence public opinion and democracy.

Incorporating Insights from the Girls’ Futures Research

The GDST research brings to light several key statistics that have shaped our approach:

  • A significant number of girls use social media to follow current affairs (54%), highlighting the importance of navigating these platforms wisely.
  • Despite their engagement, trust in the media is at an all-time low among these students, with 41% expressing scepticism about the reliability of online news.

Looking to the Future

As our students advance, the critical thinking and media literacy skills they develop at Shrewsbury High School will serve them not only in their academic pursuits but as vital tools in their roles as informed people within society. Whether facing the complexities of higher education or making sense of the world around them, the ability to critically engage with media is an invaluable asset.

Conclusion

Guided by insights from the Girls’ Futures Research, our emphasis on critical media literacy for Year 11 aims to empower students to tackle future challenges and navigate the era of misinformation effectively. At Shrewsbury High School, we’re not just educating students; we’re empowering them to navigate the era of misinformation with confidence and critical acumen.