G8 summit: Leaders prepare for a potentially fractious meeting - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson

Russian president Vladimir Putin is rumoured to be planning a dip in a nearby lake, US president Barack Obama is charming local teenaged crowds and UK prime minister David Cameron, the host, is simply trying to keep world leaders from scrapping.


G8 summit: Leaders prepare for a potentially fractious meeting

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 17 June 2013


Russian president Vladimir Putin is rumoured to be planning a dip in a nearby lake, US president Barack Obama is charming local teenaged crowds and UK prime minister David Cameron, the host, is simply trying to keep world leaders from scrapping.

The 39th annual G8 summit is being held at the Lough Erne resort in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, over the next two days, bringing with it the usual media circus as some of the world's most powerful politicians discuss pressing global issues.

Also in attendance are the French, German, Canadian, Italian and Japanese leaders. Getting this group to agree to anything beyond platitudes is notoriously difficult.

Topping the list of urgent issues is the conflict in Syria. The summit is taking place days after the US announced plans to send arms to the Syrian rebels, a move strongly opposed by President Putin, one of the Syrian government's key allies.

The Russian president discussed the issue with Mr Cameron over the weekend ahead of the formal G8 talks. Mr Putin issued a statement saying that there was "blood on the hands" of both the Syrian government and the rebels. He insisted that his government was not breaking any international laws by supplying arms to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

While the Russian premier was presumably going through his notorious strongman morning exercise programme and other leaders were simply enjoying their cornflakes, Mr Obama this morning received a rapturous reception from 2,000 students in Belfast. His statement that they were the first generation to "inherit more than just the hardened attitudes and bitter prejudices of the past" met with cheers.

Although agreement between Russia and the US on Syria is seriously unlikely, Mr Cameron will hope to find at least some common ground on the issues of tax evasion and global terrorism, other issues at the top of the G8 agenda.

In recent years, the summit has received heavy criticism because few, if any, issues are properly resolved between the attending nations. The annual event also attracts many protests, leading to a heavy police presence.

More than 8,000 police officers have been deployed to offer security during the summit, and a four-mile exclusion zone has been set up around the five-star resort.

Richard Vaughan



Questions for discussion or research:

  • What is the G8? Where could you find out more about it?
  • In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the G8 leaders: Syria, tax evasion, global terrorism or another topic? Justify your answer.
  • Why do you think people might choose to protest at the G8 summits?
  • If Barack Obama paid a visit to your school and you had an opportunity to ask him one question, what would you ask and why?

Resources for you


Should the UK intervene militarily in Syria?

  • In this lesson, students investigate current issues in Syria then discuss and form opinions about the conflict.

G8 text and questions

  • Use the global summit as a topical hook with this German wordsearch.

Climate change: A G8 conference address

  • Students will produce and deliver a 15-minute speech as the British Prime Minister to the G8 conference on the subject of climate change with these resources fromThe Prince's Rainforest Project.

Debating Matters topic guide: Terrorism and civil liberties

  • Put your students in the shoes of the G8 leaders and get them debating on one of the themes of the summit. The debate motion is: "Protecting the public from terrorism should come before civil liberties".


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


Scientists in Singapore have unveiled a new development in "invisibility cloak" technology that is sure to excite children, even the few who are not fascinated by Harry Potter.

Train drivers in Sweden were banned from wearing shorts to keep cool in the hot summer weather – so they decided to wear skirts.

One in four people will experience mental illness at some stage in their lives.

Malnutrition could be costing the world as much as $3.5 trillion a year.



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