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Understanding of First World War on a steep decline.

Byline: ANDY RICHARDS Content Editor @AndyRichards9

THE British public's understanding of the First World War is on a steep generational decline, according to a disturbing new poll.

A century on from the Great War, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of adults in the West Midlands do not think that young people today understand its historical importance, the poll by ComRes revealed.

What is striking is that across the country a majority of ALL age groups reach this conclusion, including 58 per cent of those aged 18-24, rising to 75 per cent of over 65s.

Perhaps more surprising is that fewer than half (45 per cent) of those surveyed in the West Midlands considered that adults themselves understand the significance of the First World War.

It seems that, generation by generation, Britain is losing a vital connection with the battles fought and lives sacrificed between 1914-1918.

The poll was commissioned by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and school tour operator Equity, as part of a government-funded programme to engage secondary school students with the First World War's continuing centenary anniversary events by running free battlefields tours to the Western Front. More than 4,500 teachers and students from some 1,500 secondary and middle schools in England have already taken part, with many more eligible to participate for free.

The survey also found that 90 per cent of adults in the West Midlands believe that educational school trips can help bring classroom learning to life, and 88 per cent said that schoolchildren should be given access to educational school trips.

Additionally, 64 per cent said that educational school trips are more important in students' development than online learning.

Professor Stuart Foster, executive director of the IOE's programme, which runs the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours programme, said: "We know from our experience of running the Battlefield Tours Programme that, in fact, many young people have a real understanding of the First World War - and, more importantly, they have an appetite to learn even more.

"But it is interesting that many people think that is not the case.

"The battlefield tours - which are available to every secondary school - give students tangible insight into the lives and experiences of those who fought during the War and a genuine understanding of its historic importance and contemporary relevance."

| ComRes surveyed 2,026 British adults aged 18 and over, on March 15 and March 16, 2017.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 11, 2017
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