Schools urged to mark First World War centenary

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The centenary of the start of the First World War is a huge opportunity for schools to help youngsters learn more about British history.

The centenary of the start of the First World War is a huge opportunity for schools to help youngsters learn more about British history.

That’s the view of British Future, a new non-partisan think-tank that aims to examine people’s hopes and fears about identity, integration, migration and opportunity.

In the lead-up to the centenary in 2014, the organisation commissioned pollsters YouGov to find out how much people of all ages know about the history of the First World War.

The research revealed huge gaps in youngsters’ knowledge.

Nearly two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds did not know when the First World War ended, while more than half did not know when it started.

Nearly a fifth of 16 and 17-year-olds reckoned the battle between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon at Waterloo took place during the First World War. 

Meanwhile 12 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds thought that fewer than 10,000 British and Commonwealth military personnel died during the First World War – when in fact there were 20,000 British deaths on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone.

“The centenary is a huge opportunity for schools and museums to do more to help our kids and all ages learn more about our nation’s history,” said Sunder Katwala, director of British Future.

“That’s why British Future and the Citizenship Foundation hope to work with schools on how to use 2014 to make history matter.”

Prime minister David Cameron announced last month that school trips to First World War battlefields will form part of the 100th anniversary commemorations.


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