Department for Culture, Media and Sport Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State

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Sonia Livingstone Professor and Head of the Department of Media and Communications London School of Economics and Political Science 22 March 2011

Dear Sonia Thank you for your email of 15 January about media literacy, and huge apologies for the unacceptable delay in replying. I can assure you that the Government remains fully committed to the ongoing development and promotion of media literacy in the UK, though, as with many Government programmes, we have had to re-focus our resources to reflect the present economic circumstances. We recognise the importance and value of greater media literacy, both in enhancing people's engagement with digital media, communications and services, and in helping to promote the UK’s digital economy. Furthermore, we also recognise that improving media literacy skills across the whole population remains a priority in securing suitable uptake of the online delivery of public services and in addressing concerns about potentially harmful media impact. Reducing the deficit has been the top priority of the Coalition Government and we have been determined to tackle this challenge in a targeted way. By focussing our resources we have been able to limit the cuts made to core frontline programmes. This has been a major achievement given the scale of the funding challenge across Government. However, in doing this, you will appreciate that we have had to make difficult decisions in relation to funding across all DCMS sectors, and this has included a phased reduction in our support for Ofcom’s media literacy work over the current Spending Review period. Of course, under the Communications Act, Ofcom retain their duty to promote better media literacy and we have continued to work closely with Ofcom on the development of their media literacy work programme and priorities, in order to minimise the impact of these budget reductions.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

In particular, we have recognised that Ofcom’s research continues to act as a catalyst for action and underpins the success of a range of digital media strategies by identifying trends in media usage, as well as understanding the barriers to the take-up and creative use of new media technologies. Ofcom’s existing media literacy trackers will provide many of the metrics needed to measure the progress toward delivering a wide range of national initiatives (such as the increased development of digital participation across the UK through the work of the Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, and the Race Online 2012 Partnership), and to help focus others’ work in this area – notably that by the industry, the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), and in schools. As such we see this as a key aspect of Ofcom’s work which the Government will continue to support over the next 3 years. The Race Online 2012 partnership between government, industry, charities and individuals demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the promotion of media skills. The programme, which now has over 1000 partners who have pledged to help more than 1.9 million people get online by the end of the Olympic year, has been supported by £30 million worth of Government funding for community training and access to community-based Internet through UK Online centres. One of the recommendations set out in the Race Online 2012 manifesto is to support those who need help getting online, recognising that Internet literacy should be seen as just as important as traditional literacy and numeracy. The partnership seeks to encourage the development of these skills across a range of public and voluntary sector providers. In addition to this initiative, we will continue to explore how best to promote media literacy both across Government and through collaborative work with other organisations. For example, the Department for Education (DfE) has a range of activities in this area, including: The current school curriculum continues to provide pupils, especially at secondary level, with a range of opportunities to develop highly transferrable critical and analytical media literacy skills, particularly through history, geography and English. However, schools are free to develop media literacy more specifically using whatever resources they feel are most appropriate for the ages and abilities of their pupils. In addition, a range of media literacy skills continue to be developed through the nonstatutory subject of Personal, Social and Health Education. The Government’s national curriculum review launched in January 2011 will also consider media literacy issues. There are several strands to the review, including consideration of best practice across the world, calls for evidence from interested parties, and consultations on emerging themes and issues. We anticipate that media literacy for young people will be one of the important issues to be raised. I understand that DfE would be keen to receive any views you may have on what the main priorities for the review should be in relation to the development of media literacy. The DfE website sets out how the review will go forward and how to give your views. The relevant link is: -for-review-of-the-national-curriculum-in-england/

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

A new DfE Technology policy team was set up on 1 March 2011 to continue a range of the functions and policy advice previously undertaken by BECTA. The team is currently drafting a new strategy document that will include activity on digital and media literacy. Government commissioned review of vocational education – DfE anticipate that taking forward the recommendations set out in the independent Wolf Review (which was published at the start of March) will involve exploring the role of media literacy in vocational education. Further details can be found at: 75181/wolf-review-proposes-major-reform-of-vocational-education UKCCIS and the Bailey Review – as you know, through the work of UKCCIS the Government continues to support an extensive range of industry-based activity to address concerns about children’s Internet safety, many of which are underpinned by projects aimed at enhancing both children’s and parents’ media literacy. We will also be looking at these issues in the light of any recommendations in this area put forward by the Bailey Review, which is looking into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood and is due to report in May. Media Smart – the Government continues to support the work of Media Smart, the non-profit media literacy programme for school children aged 6 to 11 years old, which plays a key role in developing young people’s understanding and constructive use of modern media, including advertising content. The Government has recently been exploring with Media Smart the development of teaching materials aimed at helping children critically assess the use of digital enhancement techniques and addressing concerns about body confidence. Additionally, the BBC Agreement places a specific duty on the BBC Trust to pay particular regard to the promotion of media literacy as part of its wider purpose remit for sustaining citizenship and civil society. We liaise with the BBC on the development of a range of projects, such as First Click, aimed at achieving these objectives. We will also continue to encourage other media industry bodies, educational organisations and third sector groups in continuing to develop a range of media literacy initiatives. Through these various strands of work we aim to continue to play a significant role in both facilitating the coordination of media literacy activity across the UK, and in encouraging the development of partnerships to ensure an effective and joined-up approach across the various strategies and projects that are relevant to enhancing media literacy and digital participation.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

I hope this reassures you that, across Government, we remain committed to improving media literacy and digital participation in the UK. With best wishes

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport

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