Crocodiles live wild in UK, say fifth of 11-year-olds

And half of pupils cannot identify an oak tree, poll finds

Adi Bloom


A fifth of 11-year-olds think that crocodiles live wild in the UK, a new poll has found.

And similar numbers think that lions roam free in Britain, according to the survey of more than 2,000 pupils.

Meanwhile, half of pupils between the ages of 4 and 16 are unable to identify an oak tree.

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Primary and secondary pupils were asked to name which of a list of animals – ranging from foxes and badgers to crocodiles and lions – live wild in the UK. Fourteen per cent of pupils of all ages – equivalent to one in seven – thought that lions lived wild in Britain. Twelve per cent believed that crocodiles roamed our countryside. 

Ten per cent said that they thought kangaroos hopped around Britain. And nine per cent expected to see koalas at large in British woodland. 

Eleven-year-olds showed a particularly poor understanding of the nature of British wildlife. Eighteen per cent of 11-year-olds still believed that lions lived wild in the UK, while 21 per cent thought that crocodiles swam in British rivers.

Pupils of all ages also displayed a lack of knowledge of genuinely indigenous flora. Asked to pick out a picture of an oak from among four pictures of trees, only 50 per cent correctly identified the species.

This figure was marginally higher – 54 per cent – among nine-year-olds than it was among 16-year-olds, only 49 per cent of whom correctly identified the oak.

The survey was carried out by Atomik Research, on behalf of outdoor education provider Kingswood. 

Alice Jones Bartoli, a psychologist employed by Kingswood, said: “These days, it can be easy for tweens and teens to fall into a habit of having indoor hobbies, so perhaps – while shocking – these findings are somewhat expected.”

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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