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Online survey to investigate First World War teaching

Northumbria University is playing a leading role in launching the first ever national online survey into how the First World War is being taught in English schools.


Dr Ann-Marie Einhaus, a Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature, is working with the University of Exeter and the Institute of Education on the AHRC-funded project.

The survey is part of an exploratory research project entitled “The First World War in the Classroom: Teaching and the Construction of Cultural Memory.” The project is part of the AHRC’s ‘Care for the Future’ theme, and seeks to gain greater understanding of the link between education and the way in which the First World War is perceived and commemorated at the point of its centenary anniversary.

The project is about examining how the war is taught and remembered in the present, to allow us to consider its future relevance to national consciousness and cultural memory as an event that can bridge the generational divide through its abiding interest. It will also help to shape the £5.3million WW1 Centenary Battlefield Tours project, run by the Institute of Education on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Dr Einhaus is working with Dr Catriona Pennell from the University of Exeter who is leading the project.  The research aims to find out what is happening in schools across England. The survey seeks to establish secondary teachers’ views (in English Literature and History) about the way the First World War is taught.

Dr Einhaus said: “This kind of survey has never been undertaken before. In the light of the forthcoming centenary commemorations, it is of vital importance in helping to understand the way young people interpret this seminal event in British and global history. We are interested to know what teachers think, whether they teach the First World War or not.”

The survey will be used to inform the nature and content of the Institute of Education’s WW1 Centenary Battlefield Tours Project which aims to provide the opportunity for a minimum of two pupils and one teacher from every state funded secondary school in England to visit battlefields on the Western Front from 2014.

The survey results will help the project leaders establish an on-going and mutually beneficial dialogue between teachers and researchers interested in First World War literature and history. Teacher input will work towards improving communication between sectors and subjects and will enable the project team to create and link up resources and ideas via the project website.

For more information – and to complete the survey – please visit the project here 

To find out more about the WW1 Centenary Battlefield Tours project, please visit the Institute of Education project website here 

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Date posted: June 21, 2013