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New report sets out steps for improving media education for all

The UK is well placed to deliver effective media literacy training on a broad scale but underfunding and a lack of policy support for Media Studies by a succession of UK governments is preventing this success.

Computer_largeThis is one of the conclusions of a new report by academics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) released this week.

The paper examines the state of Media Studies across the UK and sets out recommendations on how to improve the education for all citizens.

The authors find that the UK’s mainstream education in the study of media is solid, and in fact the UK leads the way in its media education curriculum. While the new focus on the formal teaching of coding within schools is welcome, this threatens to detract from the wider issues that the subject must tackle if it is to be effective.

The subject of Media Studies also suffers from an elitism that still pervades UK education and government, the paper argues. This means that although Media Studies is a formally schooled subject with recognised qualifications, it is still seen as less legitimate than more ‘traditional’ subjects by power-holding groups. It therefore receives patchy funding, suffers from a scarcity of teacher training and funding equipment in schools and a lack of media graduates to teach the subject effectively.

The report’s author, Dr Julian McDougall, Associate Professor in Media and Education, Bournemouth University, said: “The UK report presents a paradox. Whilst the UK still leads the way in the media education curriculum, with established courses from secondary to higher education, we are trailing our European neighbours in policy mandate, political support, teacher training and funding for the broader project of providing media and information literacy as an entitlement for all citizens, as described in the UNESCO declaration.”

Sonia LivingstoneLSE Professor Sonia Livingstone (pictured left), an advisor to the report, said: “Media and communication technologies are getting more complex every day. Yet it is increasingly vital that young people can navigate this complexity to participate fully and fairly as digital citizens now and the future. Coding is a great idea but it’s not enough. Decoding today’s media - to recognise misleading and exploitative content, to appreciate what is available and to grasp the emerging opportunities - doesn’t come automatically or naturally. This is a time to strengthen media education.”

The policy paper was presented at UNESCO conference in Paris this week and is one of 29 independent reports released at the conference on the state of media education across Europe.

The UK report can be downloaded from:
http://ppemi.ens-cachan.fr/data/media/colloque140528/rapports/UNITED-KINGDOM_2014.pdf|   

The complete list of experts and their national reports can be accessed and downloaded at www.translit.fr|  

Ends

Contact: Professor Sonia Livingston, LSE, on s.livingstone@lse.ac.uk|  

Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7107 5025, j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk|

28 May 2014 

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