Topical Talk

WHAT IS TOPICAL TALK? WHY SIGN UP? STUDENT HUB FAQs

Looking for the Burnet News Club? You're in the right place. We've made it bigger, better and more flexible and given it a new name: Topical Talk. Sign up to help your learners have regular, high-quality discussions about current affairs.

What is Topical Talk?

Topical Talk gives you free teaching resources for weekly classroom discussions about current affairs and gives children the chance to join inspiring online discussions with peers and topic experts from all over the world.

Our adaptable activities help the news make sense for learners aged 9+. 

For maximum impact, combine Topical Talk teaching resources with the Student Hub.

Pick and mix from the following options:

Layout showing one of our Headline resources: Space Tourism. The layout shows the front cover, the teacher instructions, and the student "chat mat"

Headlines

Discuss a different news story each week

  • Weekly session plans
  • Printable supporting resources
  • Online polling

Projects

Discuss one issue in depth over five weeks

  • Sequenced session plans that build towards a Final Piece
  • Online polling
  • Q&A with global topic experts

Student Hub

Connect with learners from across the world

  • High-quality discussions about the news
  • Students can publish their work
  • Take part in fun competitions and receive rewards
  • Personalised feedback from inspiring topic experts
  • Can be combined with Headlines/Projects

How do I sign up for Topical Talk?

Simply fill in our short registration form and away you go! The button below takes you to our Topical Talk site.

SIGN UP

Work at a multi-school organisation?
Talk to us about using Topical Talk across your schools.

CONTACT US

Why sign up?

The club has had a profound impact in the lives of the students we serve; in terms of confidence, self-esteem, criticality and engagement with current affairs. It has also set them on  a course toward being engaged  and questioning citizens. Matt Harris Napier Community  Primary School

Reason #1

A visible impact on your students

Topical Talk discussions give children the knowledge and skills to succeed at school and beyond. They make significant progress in communication skills so they become better listeners and more confident speakers. A focus on critical-thinking also helps their creativity and problem-solving.

We use a research-backed universal skills framework to help you track your students' progress.

Skills builder logo
Read our latest impact report

See our case studies

You can teach about the news in any way, but this programme has such high-quality resources that for me, it is the best way to teach about  the news. Resources are sensitive to the  age of the children and they are  always really engaging. Ella Martin New Horizons  Children’s Academy

Reason #2

Discuss complex issues with confidence

Topical Talk gives you the confidence to have  discussions about complex and sensitive issues.

Our teachers work with The Economist’s journalists to make sure facts are presented accurately. We have a decade of teaching experience in creating resources that are appropriate, accessible and inclusive for all learners.

Sign up now
Before doing the programme, the students felt they needed permission for the right to  have opinions on things. One child  told me “I now have the courage to say something without worrying whether  people will agree with me. Sophie Bradford  Boutcher Primary School

Reason #3

Build cultural capital from your classroom

Our resources open students’ eyes to matters of global importance and nurture their awareness of different perspectives. Through Topical Talk discussions, students develop open minds and informed voices. Help them think for themselves about the stories that affect us all. 

Quite simply, the programme has been a revelation. Every week, new and interesting resources are produced, all of which go hand-in-hand with relevant and appropriate termly topics. These are accessible to all learners: they are bespoke, carefully thought-out and allow students to improve across a number of key skills.

Michael Baker, Faringdon Community College

What’s the Student Hub?

“We can talk about the news and share our opinion in a safe place where we will not be judged.”

– STUDENT

A unique global discussion platform where young people can…

  • Join high-quality discussions about the news with young people all over the world
  • Receive personalised feedback from inspiring topic experts
  • Publish their work
  • Take part in fun competitions and receive rewards

How do I use it?
For the biggest impact, combine classroom teaching with the Student Hub. If time is too tight for classroom sessions, students can follow all the learning online.

What’s the cost?
State-funded/non-fee paying schools pay only £399 per class for an entire year or we can invoice your school £15 per child.

We ask fee-paying schools for £799 per class for the entire year (or £30 per child), to help subsidise state schools' participation

How do I sign up?
Just tick the box on the sign-up form to learn more about getting set up!

Take me to the form

Visit the Student Hub

What do the students say?

I wasn't really sceptical about the news and believed almost everything I read but it has taught me that not everything is true. I love sharing ideas and listening to others. It's very educational and helps me get involved in the news. It has also helped my writing and confidence.

STUDENT

I've learnt how to read deeply before I judge any opinion. I've also learnt how to build a good argument supported by information and to refer to my sources. What I liked best is that I could learn in class and online at my own pace. Whenever our school got a star I celebrated it!

STUDENT

I don't know where to begin with the skills I’ve gained! From learning new words, to building my self-confidence, to solving problems, to getting to know things about the environment that I didn't know about before!

STUDENT

FAQs

Frequently asked questions about Topical Talk

Yes!

Headlines and Projects are suitable for learners 9+ and contain differentiation opportunities throughout.

Topical Talk can be used in any educational setting. The resources are designed for use in school, but if you're a home-educator, you can adapt sessions for however many learners are taking part. 

Yes!

The Student Hub is set up for students to access everything online. They can either follow the activities independently or you can combine classroom sessions with the Student Hub.

Yes!

The Student Hub is where learners can:
- access all the Topical Talk activities online
- where they can share their ideas on the current topics with thousands of others from across the world. 

For the biggest impact, combine classroom teaching with the Student Hub. If time is too tight for classroom sessions, students can follow all the learning online.

We take safeguarding very seriously and follow strict processes to keep students safe online. We require all teachers to sign an agreement before students take part and we work closely with schools if students post anything that causes concern. All student work is anonymous and no identifying information is ever disclosed.


It’s reassuring for parents to see what their kids are doing – they can log on and see how safe it is. I was initially worried about cyber-safety but I know that the team takes safeguarding very seriously and every comment gets moderated, so I have no concerns about that at all.”

Ella Martin, New Horizons Children's Academy

Yes, we read every contribution before it is published and we work hard to guide students on what is appropriate and not appropriate to write. As with our classroom resources, our team of experienced teachers ensure that content is always age-appropriate on the Student Hub.


"The best thing about Topical Talk is that it makes topics accessible for children. For example, we did a topic about knife crime and the children were able to understand the reasons behind it and what we could do about it in the future. This was obviously quite a mature topic but they were really engaged in it and wanted to learn more about it. The children also do a lot of writing online which they really enjoy. The Hub is very carefully moderated, so they're very safe online and they get plenty of feedback on their ideas from the team at The Economist Educational Foundation, which is great!"

Frances Stephens, Arnhem Wharf Academy

All teaching resources are free to download and will remain free - all you need is an account which we’ll set up for you when you fill in this form.

SET UP YOUR FREE ACCOUNT

Access to the Student Hub is managed and moderated by our expert in-house teachers.

  • State-funded/non-fee paying schools pay only £399 per class for an entire year or we can invoice your school £15 per child
  • We ask fee-paying schools for £799 per class for the entire year (or £30 per child), to help subsidise state schools' participation

You can upgrade your free account to include the Student Hub at any time.

Experienced teachers on our team design all Topical Talk resources - it’s no surprise that 96% of teachers rate them as excellent!

For example, for schools in England, Topical Talk meets criteria and objectives in:
- Ofsted inspection framework
- DfE Online safety requirements
- DfE guidance on British values through SMSC

FIND OUT HOW

We're working on detailing links across other contexts, such as Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence and Wales' framework for 2022 and beyond the UK too. 

By signing up to free resources you'll also get access to a range of support materials. Our team of experienced teachers are on-hand to answer any questions you have - whether that’s about the classroom resources, the Student Hub, or something else!

Throughout the year, you are also invited to join exclusive webinars and training sessions for our Topical Talk teachers.

Yes!

In 2019, 96% of participating teachers said our resources had a positive impact on their students' overall literacy. We design our activities around the Skills Builder framework with a particular emphasis on speaking and listening.

Yes!

This combined approach will have the biggest impact. After high-quality discussions in your classroom, let your students stretch their thinking through online interactions with their peers, competitions, quizzes and Q&A with experts.

Topical Talk is versatile. Some schools embed it within literacy; others might use it to hit multiple assessment objectives in personal development or Citizenship lessons. Some use it in form/registration time. Or you could always run it as an extra-curricular club.

Just fill in our short form to create a free Topical Talk account:

Find out more

We are an independent charity that was set up from inside The Economist newspaper by staff with a passion for education.

We enable young people to join inspiring, high-quality discussions about current affairs. We give teachers resources and training to facilitate inspiring topical discussions in their classrooms. Young people use our innovative online platform to join discussions with peers in different communities, with input from leading topic experts.

Read more about our story:

OUR STORY