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Advice for ECTs – Using Current Affairs in the Classroom

You can watch the full talk with ECT mentor and author, Andrew Taylor, here.

Andrew Taylor, also known as Mr T ECT Support, is a mentor for early career teachers and the author of You Got This!, a guide for new teachers.

He joined Picture News founder, Katie Harrison, online for the webinar, ‘Using Current Affairs to Inspire Young Minds for ECTs’. It was a motivating session, filled with inspiration for early career teachers to embed the news in their teaching and contributions to school life.

This blog updates you on Andrew’s tips and perspectives!

Using the news for curriculum exploration
Andrew championed the news as an engaging stimulus for wider curriculum exploration, regardless of the year group you teach. Here are some ways you can use the news to enhance your curriculum coverage, as explained by Andrew.

  • Vocabulary: Andrew referenced vocabulary development in the primary environment, and believes the news can offer a helpful hand to expand children’s range and understanding of language. When exploring vocab and technical terms rooted in real-life events, children can build on their writing, reading and speaking skills as they move through school and become proficient in encountering news stories.
  • Follow-up ideas: The vast topics found within the news can make for engaging, new ways to connect to the curriculum. Ideas and information found within news stories can inspire children to learn and explore their interests and passions further. Andrew connected EYFS here, in that freedom within the curriculum is present in the Early Years, as teachers can follow children’s interests in the provision areas. All teachers can learn from this, in allowing curriculum coverage to be guided by children’s interests and questions, prompted by relevant news exploration.
  • Relating to others: Exploring the news ultimately coincides with geographical discovery. Encountering events occurring elsewhere in the world provides fruitful context for children to locate and learn about places and people beyond their own communities. This geographical awareness can ultimately bolster children’s ability to consider and empathise with the diverse places, cultures and experiences in our world, making for informed and receptive citizens!
  • Emotional literacy: Critically engaging with the news provides opportunities to practice emotional literacy. Analysing how a story makes themselves and others feel lets children understand and articulate emotions and reactions, whilst learning how to balance emotions and respect their peers’ responses.

Promoting an understanding of the world
Like us at Picture News, Andrew sees the value of using the news as a vehicle to embed British Values, Protected Characteristics and the UN Rights of the Child.

Andrew explained that ECTs can cover these important concepts by using real world examples from current affairs.

Referencing Picture News resources, Andrew explained that using the news as a medium to teach these concepts offers a safe stimulus to support pupils as they learn about cultures, rights, citizenship and diversity.

It’s an obligation to cover British Values, Protected Characteristics and the UN Rights of the Child, but intertwining them with current issues and events helps you embed this and offer children important context of the concepts in action.

Demonstrating teacher frameworks by embedding the news
Andrew spoke in depth of how bringing current affairs to the school environment helps you as an ECT build important, tangible evidence of meeting key frameworks, including Teachers’ Standards and Early Career Framework (ECF).

For example, Andrew explained that Standard 8 is crucially met with this openness to teaching the news, as it positively contributes to professional behaviours and wider responsibilities to school life. Personal and professional conduct can be benefitted by choosing to embed current affairs in your teaching.

Andrew encouraged ECTs to optimise current affairs coverage in school, either by developing existing work, or excitingly, leading on its introduction in school. Andrew believes a decision to lead on current affairs coverage has a wider ripple effect, in that ECTs can take ownership of its development, contribute to the school environment, and offer safe spaces for children and staff to discuss events and opinions.

A huge thank you to Andrew for joining us online and continuing to inspire the next generation of teachers!

To catch up on Andrew’s talk in full, you can watch the webinar recording here.

Visit Andrew’s X page here.

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