Tara Harmer, deputy headteacher at Heron Way Primary School, talks about how First News Education’s award-winning newspaper and reading activities engaged pupils with regular reading and raised literacy standards…

Why did you choose First News Education?
“I purchased First News newspaper and Activity Sheets for our school as it offered an accessible way for the children to gain an insight into world and UK current events.

“First News allows us time to explore news from the UK and around the world and to come back to things as they change and develop over time. It helps support our Literacy and PSHE curriculum and gives ideas and resources to use for debates. The children enjoy reading and sharing the articles and ideas with each other.”

Why is news-based learning so important?
”The articles in First News newspaper are diverse and appeal to a wide audience. Set out like any other newspaper, there is always something to grab the reader’s interest, and the language used makes it highly accessible to a wide range of reading abilities.

“The variety of topics covered means that you can safely discuss issues that you might feel sometimes unsure about tackling. Children can be nervous and scared by the news, but First News writes about events in such a way that they can get the information they need without feeling overwhelmed.”

How do First News Education’s reading activities help your school develop literacy skills?
“The printable Activity Sheets mean that all children can develop key comprehension skills and have a sense of achievement. I love the debates – they are always lively.

“I think it is very important to develop our voices and express opinions. It is important for children to learn to listen, to agree to disagree, but also to have and justify their viewpoint.

“Additionally, the support from the First News Education team is excellent – they are very prompt in responding to enquiries and I have found our iHub trial helpful in expanding my understanding of how we can fully embed First News Education’s news-based learning tools within our school.”

To whom would you recommend First News Education, and why?
“I would recommend First News Education to any school who is working to promote an enquiring mind, getting children to ask ‘big’ questions and be curious about the world around them.

“While we teach the children about creativity and imagination through stories, poetry etc, when they enter the world of work most of their experience will be with non-fiction; reading the paper also allows the children to see how non-fiction can work in a real world context.

“I use the paper as a model when writing articles to help the children understand the tone and features. It helps them to understand the purpose of audience and apply this to their own writing.”

Try all of First News Education’s products for free at schools.firstnews.co.uk/discover.