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Great War learning 'teaches values'

Teaching children about the shared experiences of British troops and Commonwealth soldiers during the First World War could help them understand modern day Britain and its values, it has been suggested.

A report by the British Future think tank says that giving l essons on the Great War is a clear way to explore and explain British integration and the values shared by its citizens today.

The organisation's director, Sunder Katwala, said children should know about Britain's history, including the history of Empire.

"Teaching kids about the Empire helps explain why their classroom looks like it does today," he said.

"Soldiers from across that Empire fought alongside British troops in 1914. Their descendants are now British citizens living in towns and cities across the UK.

"The multi-ethnic army that fought in 1914 looks much more like the Britain of today than that of a hundred years ago. It's this shared past that explains how Britain has become the country we are now."

Mr Katwala added: "People see the First World War centenary as a chance for children to learn their country's history. We believe it could also improve integration and help develop a sense of British values that we all share."

Around 1.5 million soldiers from Commonwealth nations fought for Britain in 1914, the think tank said, adding that few people in Britain are aware of this shared history.

Research conducted by the organisation last year found that less than half (44%) of those questioned were aware that Indian soldiers found alongside British troops.

A new poll conducted by the think tank of around 2,000 adults found that 79 % agreed that teaching children about the history of Empire and Commonwealth troops would many an important contribution to integration and British values.

The vast majority (87%) said that British values should be taught in schools, with 49% saying that most people have a "pretty clear idea" of what these values are.

Asked which are the most important British values, the top was found to be respect for law (chosen by 69%), followed by respect for free speech (66%), democracy (64%), respect for private property (62%) and equality between men and women (61%).

Last month Education Secretary Michael Gove announced new proposals for schools to ''actively promote'' British values after it was confirmed that five Birmingham schools have been placed into special measures following inspections as part of investigations into the ''Trojan Horse'' allegations of a takeover plot by hardline Muslims.

:: The ICM survey questioned 2,030 British adults aged 18 and over online between June 25-27.


From Belfast Telegraph