Handling sensitive news in the classroom

Guidance for handling distressing news topics in the classroom, with activities that encourage reflection, empathy and a critical eye
Sensitive News, Terror Attacks, Terrorism, Primary, Secondary, Reflection, Empathy, Discussion, Distressing Topics, Teaching Terrorism, Media Bias

Activities to help you confidently encourage reflection and empathy while covering distressing topics with your students

Following a major or emotional news story, your learners may want to talk through the event with their peers. To help you make your classroom a safe place in which to express opinions and feelings, we have gathered a range of activities designed to promote empathy and reflection, as well as a critical eye when exploring media coverage.

Discussion and media bias

If you are looking for a way to tackle a recent, sensitive event with your class, try using this thought-provoking document on the Westminster attacks as a starting point. It offers a rational and calming structure through which to model mature discourse.

Further encourage discussion in a safe environment with this comprehensive toolkit, providing a variety of ideas on chairing healthy debate in the classroom. Alternatively, show pupils ways to decipher bias and fact within the media using this interactive presentation.

Empathy and loss

Encourage compassion among your students with this innovative snakes and ladders game, designed to aid the development of emotional intelligence and resilience. Or, why not use this empathy worksheet to help your learners reflect and develop an understanding of unfamiliar concepts and events?

For some guidance on grief and the ways in which you can help pupils affected by a particular event, refer to this understanding loss booklet, detailing the typical reactions of young people when faced with bereavement.

Reflection and wellbeing

Check in with your students and get a quick idea for the feeling in the room using this easy-to-assemble emotions fan, before walking them through the range of different emotions that they may be experiencing in this succinct assembly.

You can also encourage learners to contemplate their feelings and how they might make tomorrow a better day using this brief reflection exercise.  

Quick links

Discussion and media bias Empathy and loss Reflection and wellbeing
Discussion toolkit Understanding loss guide Emotions tool
Bias, fact and opinion lesson Snakes and ladders game Reflection activity
Westminster attacks resource Empathy task Managing emotions assembly

Have we missed a resource that helped you handle a sensitive topic or news story in the classroom? Let us know by sending us the link!