Details of surveys underpinning Michael Gove's assertion in Mail on Sunday re teenagers' lack of historical knowledge

J Downs made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

The request was successful.

From: J Downs

26 March 2013

Dear Department for Education,

In the Mail on Sunday, 23 March 2013, the Secretary of State,
Michael Gove, wrote:

"Survey after survey has revealed disturbing historical ignorance,
with one teenager in five believing Winston Churchill was a
fictional character while 58 per cent think Sherlock Holmes was
real."

I should be grateful if you could give me details of these surveys:
who ran them, what questions were asked, when the surveys took
place,and size and make-up of samples.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,

Janet Downs

Link to this

Department for Education

3 April 2013

Dear Ms Downs

Thank you for your recent enquiry. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0022443

Thank you

Department for Education
Public Communications Unit
Tel: 0370 000 2288

Dear Department for Education,

In the Mail on Sunday, 23 March 2013, the Secretary of State,
Michael Gove, wrote:

"Survey after survey has revealed disturbing historical ignorance,
with one teenager in five believing Winston Churchill was a
fictional character while 58 per cent think Sherlock Holmes was
real."

I should be grateful if you could give me details of these surveys:
who ran them, what questions were asked, when the surveys took
place,and size and make-up of samples.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,

Janet Downs

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #154815 email]

Is [DfE request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to Department for Education? If so, please
contact us using this form:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/contact

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your
web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Link to this

Department for Education

15 April 2013

Dear Ms Downs
Thank you for your email of 26 March, requesting details of a survey about
teenagers’ lack of historical knowledge.

Unfortunately, I am not able to provide you with the details of the survey
as it was commissioned and conducted by UKTV Gold.  I would advise that
you contact UKTV Gold direct, as they should be able to assist you on this
matter.
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0022443. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely

Emma Seymour
Curriculum Policy Division
[email address]
[2]www.education.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.education.gov.uk/contactus
2. http://www.education.gov.uk/

Link to this

From: J Downs

15 April 2013

Dear Department for Education,

Thank you for your reply saying that one survey about teenagers'
lack of historical knowledge was done by UKGold.

I should be grateful if you could let me know when the survey was
undertaken.

Michael Gove referred to "survey after survey". This indicates that
there was more than just one. But you have given me the name of
only one.

Would it be fair to say that there was actually only one survey and
not several as Mr Gove said?

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Link to this

Department for Education

8 May 2013

Dear Ms Downs
Thank you for your further email of 15 April, requesting details of the survey’s the Secretary of State referred to in his article in the Mail on Sunday,
about teenagers’ lack of historical knowledge.

As advised previously, you would need to contact UKTV Gold to find out details of their survey, including when it was undertaken.

The other survey’s the Secretary of State referred to include:

·        a survey of 2000 11 to 16 year olds by Premier Inn;

·        a study commissioned by Lord Ashcroft of 1000 children aged 11 to 18 to mark the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in London;

·        a report by Professor Robert Tombs for think-tank Politeia;

·        an article by London Mums Magazine
[1]http://londonmumsmagazine.com/2013/with-...

·        research carried out by the Sea Cadets to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
[2]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/edu...

 
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0025074. If you need to respond to us, please visit: [3]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and
quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via
our website at: [4]www.education.gov.uk/pcusurvey.

Yours sincerely

Francess Quinn
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
[5]www.education.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://londonmumsmagazine.com/2013/with-...
2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/edu...
3. http://www.education.gov.uk/contactus
4. http://www.education.gov.uk/pcusurvey
5. http://www.education.gov.uk/

Link to this

Stuimac left an annotation ( 8 May 2013)

Quote-marks Survey's? Survey's? What's that apostrophe for, Dept. of Education?

Link to this

From: J Downs

9 May 2013

Dear Department for Education,

Thank you for your reply giving me details of the "survey's" (sic)
used to underpin Michael Gove's assertion that British teenagers
are ignorant of history.

The “survey’s” included only one, Lord Ashcroft’s, which could be
described as a properly-conducted poll. Premier Inn's survey was a
marketing exercise taken at face value by gullible journalists. The
Politeia study wasn’t a survey and the final two were articles
about surveys. An internet search found no details of either so we
don’t know whether there was a representative sample, what the
questions were or how the survey was conducted.

It appears, then, that Michael Gove is relying on surveys of
dubious reliability to back up his claim that British teenagers are
woefully ignorant about history.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Link to this

J Downs left an annotation ( 9 May 2013)

Quote-marks I have written in more detail about the DfE's reply on the Local Schools Network:

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/20...

Link to this

Kathy Bramley left an annotation (14 May 2013)

Quote-marks http://www.educationquizzes.com/contact-... - Details webpage of organisation who sent the survey in a press release pack to London Mums. The source of the data is not something I, or another person who posted on the blog, found on the Education Quizzes site. London Mums' blogging representative suggested contacting them. It might suit them to explain. They say there's not such a thing as bad publicity, but I expect an educational website ought to be able to defend the reliability of their survey.

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department for Education only:

Follow this request

There are 13 people following this request

Offensive? Unsuitable?

Requests for personal information and vexatious requests are not considered valid for FOI purposes (read more).

If you believe this request is not suitable, you can report it for attention by the site administrators

Report this request

Act on what you've learnt

Similar requests

More similar requests

Event history details

Are you the owner of any commercial copyright on this page?