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Developing a safe climate for learning about the news

Advice and guidance to ensure you are supporting pupils to engage with the news safely
NewsWise encourages pupils to become familiar with how news is produced and interact with real news stories. It is important, therefore, that pupils are supported to handle any news stories they may come across, feel confident to talk about them and learn how to be sensitive to others when discussing or even producing news themselves.
The NewsWise PSHE education lessons specifically focus on developing the skills and attributes that enable pupils to manage feelings, emotions and sensitivity around the news. PSHE education safe practice should be reflected throughout all of the NewsWise lessons; it is important to create and maintain a safe learning environment in the classroom to enable pupils to engage effectively.
The keys to creating a safe learning environment
Each time you deliver a NewsWise lesson, reconsider the following:
Agree, reinforce and model ‘ground rules’, including concepts of confidentiality. Examples of ground rules might include asking pupils to listen to each other and work together with respect, take a non-judgemental approach to different points of view, carefully consider their use of language and not share personal stories without permission.

Choose real news stories carefully. Avoid the use of images that may cause shock, fear or guilt, emotions which can potentially prevent engagement, cause distress, or traumatise pupils. Consider especially any relevant sensitivity or prior knowledge about specific pupils’ circumstances, in line with your school’s safeguarding policy.

Use distancing techniques when exploring sensitive or controversial issues. In other words, create a character or scenario of the situation that pupils can relate to, rather than asking them ‘how they would feel’ or ‘what they would do’. This helps pupils to explore situations objectively, while having the opportunity to reflect on how it might relate to their own lives, without the need to disclose personal information in front of their peers.
Questions should be encouraged and valued, but ensure you handle questions safely. One way of doing this is to ask pupils to write down questions they have at any time, which you can then collect using an anonymous question box. This gives you an opportunity to plan your responses to more challenging questions should they arise.

Ensure that you balance one-sided news stories by providing pupils with realistic and relevant information that reinforces positive social norms.

Signpost platforms for support and advice if pupils have further questions or worries. Pupils should feel confident that they know what to do to help themselves or others, as well as how to report concerns.
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