William who? The Battle of Hastings is an incredibly significant part of this country’s history, but it seems that kids are failing to acknowledge our past as many can’t even identify who led the Norman invasion of England (it was William, Duke of Normandy, in case you forgot).

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Almost half of 7 to 11 year old KS2 (Key Stage 2) History students don’t know who invaded England in 1066 and 44 per cent can’t identify which century World War Two was in, according to new research by the teacher-set exam revision service, Education Quizzes.

The research also found that more than a third of older KS3 (Key Stage 3) students don’t know the meaning of the word ‘Empire’.

Despite exam results going up each year, the research confirms that a large portion of young school children are struggling with subjects like History and Literacy. So, does this mean traditional learning-by-rote is failing young people, or in an age of spell check and Wikipedia is it simply not relevant anymore?

It’s not just historical knowledge where pupils are falling short, young people are, also, struggling with their spelling.

Most ironic – and possibly portentous – is the common misspelling of words like ‘achievement’, ‘skilful’ and ‘fulfil’. Education Quizzes found that the top ten most frequently misspelled words by 11 to 14-year-olds studying for their Key Stage Three (KS3) spelling exams are: ‘achievement’, ‘figurative’, ‘separate’, ‘interrupt’, ‘questionnaire’, ‘skilful’, ‘necessary’, ‘surreal’, ‘fulfil’ and ‘interactive’. 

Colin King, Education Quizzes Co-Founder, said: “What’s clear is that standards are slipping when it comes to the tasks now undertaken by computers such as spelling and punctuation. Even learning historical dates and facts has been replaced by typing a quick search into Google.

“Shortcuts like these are a great resource but are no replacement for traditional learning, where practice and a degree of old fashioned memorising is crucial.”

But leaving to one side whether learning dates is a useful preparation for adult life, young people also know surprisingly little about their health, rights and the world around them.

More than two fifths of KS2 students aren’t aware of the ages at which Children’s Rights apply; 30 per cent don’t know who makes laws in the UK and 17 per cent don’t know what a paramedic does.

Most worryingly over half of the same age group doesn’t know that drinking too much alcohol damages the liver and 21 per cent don’t know that cocaine is illegal.

Nevertheless young people are up to speed in other, more 21st Century, subjects.

For example only five per cent of KS3 students don’t know what the word ‘media’ means, and to illustrate the impact of journalism on the public consciousness, 95 per cent of 11 to 14-year-olds know that the informal name of the Conservative Party is ‘Tories’ – despite the party’s best efforts to distance themselves from it.

So while 71 per cent of GCSE English students might not know what a ‘subtext’ is or a quarter who are not even aware of a ‘paragraph’, most young people are talented in new areas.

For example, environmental issues have come to prominence in the past ten years, and young people have been quick to engage with measures to tackle climate change.

Only seven per cent of KS2 Geography students are unable to identify solar power as an alternative energy source or explain how hydroelectricity is produced, with the same proportion also able to identify the Ozone layer.

Nevertheless, despite progress in more untraditional areas of education, Colin King, is urging parents and teachers to find new ways of connecting children to the education syllabus.

Colin added: “Without access to Microsoft Word features like ‘spelling and grammar’ or internet searches, young people are beginning to stumble on some of the most straightforward facts and spellings.

“We need to take action to avoid a slide in basic education standards and this means young people giving up their quick-fix homework shortcuts, parents getting involved to help their children with things like times tables and spelling exercises in the car on the school run, and teachers finding fun ways like quizzes to drum in those key items from the syllabus.”

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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