Fed up school kids share thoughts on Covid-19

By Julia Gregory, local democracy reporter

Perhaps speaking for the nation, if not the world, one Hammersmith pupil summed up her views on Covid.

“I have just had enough of this. I can’t wait to get back to normal.”

Thirteen-year-old Eliza is one of a group of Hammersmith Academy pupils who shared some of their tips for making sure they get the right information about coronavirus.

The group of pupils aged 12 and 13 learnt about media literacy and about the dangers of extremism, terrorist groups and Covid misinformation in a workshop from Shout Out UK.

Eleanor Samuels, co-lead art & personal development co-ordinator, Hammersmith Academy in the art room. pic by Eleanor Samuels

The education social enterprise  is running workshops with pupils in Hammersmith and Fulham  and Kensington and Chelsea to help counter extremism and promote media literacy.

The events, currently delivered online, help give pupils the tools to spot misinformation and know where to verify facts.

The goals of the pilot are broadly in line with the Prevent programme to guard young people against extremist rhetoric, build resilience, and fight the spread of hate speech online.

They are also focusing on media literacy by building students’ critical thinking skills on things they read online, to enable them to identify signs of extremism and to teach them how to seek help.

Pupils joined an online chat with the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Because of lockdown rules pupils are being taught at home rather than at school in Shepherd’s Bush.

Eliza, Hammersmith Acdemy, year 8 pupil

And they shared their feelings about lockdown and although they said they don’t have to rush to get to school right now they would like to see their friends.

Ottilie, 12, said: “What I am most looking forward to is going to see the school library.”

She said she also has a stack of books to return.

And Makel, 12, who is also a sci-fi fan, agreed.

“I really like the library, books take you to a different place.”

Other pupils  wanted to get back to sport and couldn’t wait to return to the climbing wall, swimming pool and kung fu.

Makel is a brown belt in kick boxing and can’t wait to get back to classes.

Twelve-year-old Lina said lockdown meant she had fewer activities to do. “I found myself tidying my room on a daily basis,” she said.

They shared some top tips they learnt from the media literacy event.

Makel wanted to point out that it’s not good to spend too long online, as many children are online all day at school. He pointed out that: “I have adjusted to it and it is quite normal for me.”

Ottilie, who is also 12, said lockdown makes it harder to make friends but pupils have kept in touch online.

Zuhair said the workshop included a quiz looking at “how comfortable we are about identifying fake news and people who might be sending fake news.”

Lina advised people to check out whether facts are true or false.

Eliza said: “I’m not really worried about fake news because I know it is out there.”

And Zuhair, 13, said: “I would ask people where they got it from.

“Most Photoshop images are easy to spot, but it’s when companies are spending a bit of money on CGIs.”

And he added: “Make sure you check that the news you are getting sounds realistic, for example if someone said coronavirus has completely vanished.”

And Ottilie advised: “If you ever see something and it contradicts other things you might have seen before you should always go and check it with a reliable news source.”

Another top tip was deleting sources of misinformation and avoiding secrets.

Will Stevens Delivering workshop to teach about spotting extremism

And they said Full Fact, First Draft News and Snopes are places where you can check facts.

The pupils also had some advice for other children living through lockdown.

Makel and Eliza said: “Keep a routine.”

And Eliza added: “Keep yourself busy and do exercise.”

Hammersmith Academy’s Eleanor Samuels who is the personal development co-ordinator and co-lead for art added her own tips.

“Clean your desk at the end of every day,” she said.

And she advised people to make sure they get a break, especially if you have other responsibilities at home.

“Make time for you every day, whether it’s half an hour a  day.”

“I am so impressed by how adaptive kids are,” she added.

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