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Fake News and Schools Sport and Activity Plan

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Today’s blog looks at the issue of ‘fake news’, with the Education Secretary warning of the dangers it poses ahead a Social Media Summit he attended today. The blog also features the School Sport and Activity Action Plan which was announced on Sunday 14 July.

Fake News

Today, Monday 15 July, the Education Secretary attended a Social Media Summit alongside the Health Secretary Matt Hancock. . Following on from the recently published online safety guidance for schools, which includes guidance for teaching children how to evaluate what they see online, how to recognise techniques used for persuasion, how to identify online risks and how and when to seek support. It will enable them to recognise and respond to ‘fake news’ more effectively and to differentiate between misinformation and disinformation.

The story was covered in the Telegraph, Sun, Mail, Independent, Metro and Mirror and there were also interviews with the Education Secretary on Sky News and Talk Radio this morning.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

The internet puts a vast amount of information at our fingertips. But it also makes it much easier to spread falsehoods – inadvertently or by design.

Today we will be addressing with social media companies how to curb the spread of misleading content on vaccinations. But this issue goes much further than that, and without firm action it is set to get a lot worse.

The reputations of institutions and companies, and liberal democracy itself, can quickly be eroded by the spread of so-called ‘fake news’. Since ancient times, propagandists have sought to manipulate the truth. But in the internet age these techniques are available not just to states but to campaign groups and individuals. And social media’s network effects, and the power of ‘Likes’, mean their spread can be self-propelling.

What starts as disinformation – deliberate falsification – gets replicated through misinformation – stating or passing on something that you believe to be true but isn’t.‎

Trusted sources become more important than ever. For health information, clearly that means the NHS. For news, young people will have to work out their own preferred sources, but the important thing is to be discerning.

We need the tech companies to make that easier – but we also need to ensure that young people are new-media-savvy. That’s why we are introducing new content to schools that is a fusion of the Relationships, Citizenship and Computing curricula. Children won’t just learn about what a spoofer or a sock-puppet are, or how clickbait headlines try to lure you in. They’ll learn about how so-called confirmation bias helps stories spread, and discuss why someone might want to bend the truth in the first place.

Schools Sport and Activity Plan

On Sunday 14 July, the Department for Education announced the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, which is a joint commitment with DCMS and DHSC to improve sport in schools and ensure more children are meeting the Chief Medical Officer's guidance of 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

The Department has committed £2.5million in 19/20 to deliver extra training for PE teachers, help schools open up their facilities at weekends and during the holidays, and expand sports volunteering programmes to give more young people the opportunity to become sports leaders and coaches.

This announcement was covered in a number of outlets on Sunday including Telegraph and BBC Online, The Sunday Times and The Observer.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

As a parent I want my children to be happy and healthy. As Education Secretary, I want young people to leave school prepared for adult life. Sport can help with both – it not only keeps pupils fit and healthy but helps them grow in confidence and learn vital skills, such as teamwork and recovering from life’s inevitable setbacks.

My ambition is for every pupil to have the chance to find a sport they love, setting them up to lead healthy, active lives and equipping them with the skills to reach their full potential, both inside and outside the classroom.

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