In The Picture

Reading time: 3

John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How do you get children interested in the news?

In our 24/7 news world, it can be difficult to keep up with everything happening around us. News reaches us from all angles in a constant stream of print, videos, blogs, websites, feeds and alerts, and much of this comes directly to our phones and laptops. It’s debatable whether children pay much attention to this onslaught, as a lot of the news is aimed at adult audiences, so it is not uncommon to hear children describe ‘the news’ as ‘boring’.

Picture this?

News events are anything but boring when made age-appropriate and taught in context. So, how do we engage and excite children in the world around them and support their understanding of what is going on?

One very powerful way to approach the news is to simply use a picture. And what better time would there be to do that? During a school assembly. Teaching the news with images is incredibly effective and this is the idea behind an inspirational current affairs resource from Picture News. Every week, Picture News sends schools a striking A2 poster along with a detailed assembly plan, web-links, key stage 1 and key stage 2 focus cards, with a linked activity to British values and an A4 newsletter.

These are easily adapted to secondary schools and everything comes as an e-resource for ease of use.

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Picture News is a Venus fly trap resource to capture children’s attention, a resource that encourages students to engage with the real news events unfolding around them. The rich resources on offer are designed to widen eyes and get tongues wagging, promoting news literacy by asking children to reflect and respond.


The KS1 and KS2 notes that follow provide some ‘listen, think, share’ question prompts and ideas followed by a poignant pause for reflection to make children think again. Picture News also sends great ideas for cross-curricular links with notes for how the news topic could be planted and fertilised in other subjects. These serve as nifty nudges to support how you might expand into other areas and how the news touches upon and encompasses a wide variety of concepts.

When and where to use Picture News?

The Picture News resources have been designed for using in assemblies and this seems to be their most natural home, but Picture News could easily set up shop and establish itself in other scenarios. For example, I’d definitely use this resource as part of a literacy lesson, within circle time, as part of a PSHE and Citizenship lesson, or as a thought-provoking way to end the day.

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In some schools many classes devote a lesson each week to current affairs, so Picture News could feed into a session like this to explore local, national and international stories. Why not establish your own? Could you set up a Current Affairs Forum and plug this resource directly into it? They would easily kick-start some relevant discussions and promote insight.

News Bored or News Champions?

The pictures are ready-made displays and can take pride of place on a ‘news board’, ‘news flash’ or ‘current affairs board’. These boards are located best in the school where there is a high foot-fall or where people have to wait in a reception area or dining hall. Some schools use them as pre-assembly displays to get children thinking and some use them to catch children’s eyes whilst they are queueing up for lunch. Week by week, you will start to amass an impressive collection of ‘in the news’ photos that could be revisited at the end of each month or half-term to see what children can remember.

News can be confusing and often frightening for children, so using Picture News with its planning guidance and advice can help you talk together, make sense of events and enter into balanced, responsible and professional learning conversations that support layers of understanding and interpretation, not peddle myths, half-truths and fears.

When children become active participants of real news not fake news, rather than being just passive consumers or bystanders, news can become informative and engaging for young people. This is a timely, highly relevant and intriguing resource that cultivates literacy, life skills and help play a part in helping develop intelligent and global citizens.

Could Picture News work for you? Picture News is a subscription service and costs £420 per year, or, you can trial the platform for 8 weeks at just £80. Contact for more information.

I’m struggling to see how it wouldn’t work for any school.

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