Call for Welsh government to prioritise digital literacy in schools

Wise Kids report finds only 44% of children, in Welsh schools, believes they have good technology for use in lessons

Following an investigation into digital literacy in Welsh schools, the government is being urged to prioritise the subject and allow exceptional students to contribute towards policies involving the use of technology.

The Generation 2000 report found only 44% of children in Welsh schools believe they have good technology for use in their lessons.

Over 2,000 year 9 pupils (aged 13 and 14) from across Wales took part in the research, which aims to investigate online and digital media habits and digital literacy.

The report was led by Wise Kids and co-funded by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Logicalis and S4C. Research was conducted in group interviews, one-to-one home interviews and via an online questionnaire.

The report recommends that technologically savvy children should be trusted to play a role in certain policies such as internet safety, after the research found that students are “experts on their own internet use and experiences”.

The report found that 42% of students received messages from peers and others online that upset them, but had learnt to overcome such issues. Recommendations for parents being more digitally savvy were also revealed to enable internet support for their children at home.

Furthermore, the figures highlighted a disconnect between children’s digital experiences at home and in school, calling for action to be taken for high-quality technology and internet access in all schools across the region.

A total of 31% said they undertake informal learning for personal interest, reading or watching the news, whereas just 17% use the internet daily for school-related work.

In addition, Welsh speaking children said they would like to see more online resources in Welsh.

Sangeet Bhullar, executive director at Wise Kids, said: “We are living in an exciting new digital landscape, and need to make sure no one in Wales is left behind. There is a need for schools to engage pupils and deliver digital literacy and digital citizenship education that is inspiring and takes into account pupils’ own experiences.

“We hope educators, policy makers and parents will work together to help deliver this transformation.”

Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said the research is “myth-busting”.

“It demonstrates clearly the sophisticated digital skill set of pupils in Wales. I’m hoping we’ll listen to the clear messages they’re giving us and that policy makers, schools and parents embrace this opportunity for us to become world leaders in this field by ensuring all pupils have the opportunity to hone their skills,” said Towler.

Chris Gabriel, chief technology officer of Logicalis UK, said understanding the online habits of the next generation is crucial to the delivery of successful digital services in Wales: “The report shows that a gap remains between what children are able to experience in school versus what they are experiencing in their personal lives.

“Provisioning the right high-performance technology in our education institutions is key to closing that gap. Schools should look to inspire the next generation to use their inherent digital skills and tech know-how in formal learning environments, so they can be properly equipped for their future.”

Sioned Wyn Roberts, head of content for S4C, said: “Young people have rich digital lives and have developed the skills and confidence to navigate that world. Content creators, educators and parents need to catch up.

“As a broadcaster, S4C has content available on all platforms and it is encouraging that young people have the skills to access online content safely. The next step is to encourage more young people to move on from consuming content to creating their own digital content.”

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