View from the BRIDGE

This post describes the recent Scottish briefing for the BRIDGE project, at the National Library of Scotland. The account is based on livetweets from the session. The briefing was attended by members of social informatics research group, and several ‘policy’ people and Scottish Government officials. 

About the project

The BRIDGE project investigated equality values as a part of information literacy (IL) and digital literacy (DL) around contemporary issues. It aimed to foster information and digital literacy in primary schools, and was an Erasmus+-funded collaboration between partners in six countries: Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Finland and the UK. The UK arm of the project was run by Stéphane Goldstein of InformAll and Sarah Pavey of SP4IL.

The project was aimed at primary school students and families, their educators, educational institutes, education leaders, regional teacher offices, networks etc. its objectives were to 

  • place information literacy at the heart of education
  • promote global citizenship and transnational co-operation
  • create a database of relevant digital and print resources
  • encourage primary school children’s curiosity and critical thinking by supporting teachers and librarians.

Hence the project outputs (on the project website) include a report of national situations/contexts, a survey of teachers and librarians, an interactive portal of classroom resources, and online training material. The report has overviews of policies and curricula. It also covers how school libraries support (or lack of support) for IL and DL, lessons from the pandemic, SWOT analyses and proposals for future strategies. 

While this briefing was about the ‘UK’ part of BRIDGE, BRIDGE only reported on English primary schools: there were insufficient resources to delve deeply into the other UK nations. However, it was suggested that Scotland might be better than England in this context.

Survey findings and discussions

It was found that the six countries in the project differ in how they teach IL. These may result from many countries’ laws mandating the teaching of IL. (The UK does not have such laws.)

The briefing also presented the results from surveying UK primary school teachers and librarians. (The questions are available on pages 184 to 191 for the full project report.)

Responses to questions about school environments showed that many respondents felt unsupported and unable to influence matters. There was evidence of differences between responses from public and independent schools, with the former more often feeling unsupported. Sarah Pavery stated that this may result from state schools needing to follow a fixed curriculum, while private schools are much freer to undertake extracurricular activities, and  may well follow different curricula such as the inquiry-based Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate

It was noted that social media should not affect UK primary pupils, because supposedly only people aged 13 or more can have social media accounts. (This may not be true in practice, according to this Guardian article.) While there may also be assumptions that all children are self-taught digital natives, there is evidence that some children in the project cohort cannot even create Word documents. An attendee noted at this point that people do not understand the relevance of information literacy.

It was found that 89% of responding UK school librarians were aware of IL as a term, as opposed to 28% of their teacher peers. However teachers are more likely to teach IL. This may be due to a sea-change in school libraries stemming from the English national curriculum mandating no coursework. However, there was concern that the England survey results may not be robust – there were only 60 responses from England, comparted to over 400 responses from Greece.

There was then discussion of Ofcom impact frameworks, including implementation and funding of long-term impact evaluations.

The next set of questions in the survey were about support of critical thinking and equality, which seems to be ‘moderate’. There was discussion of preponderance of technology over information in IT teaching, and of online safety concerns.

Findings on digital competencies showed that many UK respondents don’t teach these at all, apart from online safety and similar topics. Such teaching appears to be often left to computing teachers.

The portal and training module

There was then a demonstration of the online portal, including its built-in translations. The training module is based on a booklet of ideas for teachers, librarians and educators. (This is now available on the project website, together with the English version of the training seminar video showing how to make the best use of it.)


Questions included

  • how project partners were brought into the project
    • This was co-ordinated by the Spanish partner, Universitat Jaume 1. UK universities were also approached, but due to Brexit it was easier to engage experienced consultants.
  • how resources were selected
    • Each participating country selected database and website resources that were open-source and likely to remain so in the future. For picture books, there are bibliographic details to enable borrowing the from libraries. This is because these are commercial products. Other resources such as online guidance materials are freely available, and most are open-source.

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