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Young English 'don't know history'

Many of England's young people have gaps in their history knowledge, unable to tell the difference between Admiral Nelson and Oliver Cromwell, or the nationality of Charles Darwin, according to a poll.

Nearly half of 18-24-year-olds (45%) do not know that Nelson led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, with more than one in six (15%) believing Cromwell was responsible, according to a survey commissioned by the national schools singing programme Sing Up.

More than one in four of the 18 to 24-year-olds questioned (28%) thought the Battle of Trafalgar was part of the English Civil War.

Over a third (34%) did not know that Darwin was English, with one in seven (14%) believing he was American, one in 10 (11%) saying he was Scottish and a similar proportion (9%) giving his nationality as Canadian.

The survey questioned 200 18 to 24-year-olds as part of a wider survey of more than 1,700 adults.

More than three in 10 (32%) of all adults questioned did not know Darwin was English, while more than a fifth (22%) did not know that Nelson led the British to victory at Trafalgar.

Nearly three in 10 (29%) of adults did not know that Hadrian's Wall was built by the Romans.

The survey was commissioned to mark Sing Up's new School Trip Singalong, which will see the organisation partner with seven UK attractions to help bring history to life through new songs.

Howard Goodall, National Singing Ambassador and composer, said: "Everyone remembers their favourite school trip and those noisy minibus and coach singalongs. Singing on the bus is a great way to engage children in learning in a fun, exciting way, and there is a wealth of evidence which shows that singing aids memory, improves concentration and educational development."

The Populus poll questioned 1,762 adults, including 199 18 to 24-year-olds, in April.


From Belfast Telegraph