Children to develop critical literacy skills with the Irish News

St Mary's principal Peter Finn, Angela McGowan (CBI); Donna Hazzard, lecturer at St Mary's and Irish News Editor Noel Doran

SCHOOL children are to be introduced to daily newspapers in an interactive way to help build their literacy skills.

St Mary's University College, in collaboration with the Irish News and supported by CBI, has created the Irish News Critical Literacy Project.

It will deliver news knowledge and develop literacy understanding in the classroom, while supporting the varied demands of the wider curriculum.

Created exclusively for the Irish News and designed for pupils aged 8-12, it involves eight weeks of activities that offer a different way to challenge the knowledge and understanding of young readers.

It also introduces young people to the wonderful world of newspapers. They will receive their own copy of the Irish News delivered weekly. At the end of the project, successful pupils will also receive a personalised certificate of achievement.

"We know our school pupils are fascinated by the news, the American election, Syrian refugees on flimsy boats, sports," said the Irish News marketing manager John Brolly.

"The news can provide a great way for them to improve their reading and writing, as well as their talking and listening skills and our objective is to develop that news interest."

Donna Hazzard, principal lecturer and literacy course team leader at St Mary's said the project would help children and adolescents manage the multiplicity of texts in their lives by explicitly teaching them critical literacy skills.

"These skills are so crucial that it isn't a question of whether or not we should teach critical literacy, but rather a question of how. This collaborative St Mary's - Irish News project has given us a perfect opportunity for developing these essential life skills for pupils across all of our schools," she said.

The project is supported by the CBI.

"People and skills are the heart of our economic prosperity," said Angela McGowan, CBI Regional Director for Northern Ireland.

"Equipping children with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours early in life sets them up for career success, and allows them to be influencers and indeed owners of Northern Ireland’s future economy.

"The project provides children, from an early age, with the opportunity to get involved in the world around them and improve their understanding of issues that will no doubt affect them (and their families) as they grow and develop for the world of work."

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