Why are England’s School Children Unhappy?

The Children’s Society Study

A recent 2015 study has shown that England’s school children are said to be some of the unhappiest children in the world. Due to a constant change in societal matters it may be difficult to pin point the direct source of said unhappiness but there is said to be some primary causes of these low levels of well-being. The study reported by ‘The Good Childhood’ showed that out of 15 diverse countries, England ranked 2nd for the highest ‘low satisfaction’ levels. Alongside this, there have been many reports over the years that accuse schools of over-pressuring their students and handing out excessive amounts of after school curricular. An increase of stress levels within schools for both students and teachers could arguably have damaging and lasting effects on school children. This is because their safe learning environment has become compromised with negativity leaving students feeling pressured academically.

School children as young as 9 years old are already partaking in competitive exams to secure a place at some of the UK’s highest performing schools. The constant burden of exams that students are made to endure can have a range of negative effects whilst growing up, such as increased anxiety and low self-esteem. It could be argued that starting school children off with exams at an early age can help increase their confidence with exams later on. However, having exam dates looming over every student throughout the academic year is bound to increase stress levels for all students.

Out with the Old

The bureaucracy of education in Britain is currently absorbed in a traditional way of one-way-system thinking. This can cause problems for schools as the rest society is constantly modernising. We have created a modern way of thinking that has helped us understand that not all children can be taught the same way. Schooling in Switzerland is divided in groups of ability. Contrary to the British system; the diversity of Switzerland schools doesn’t instantly classify students as academic failures if they are unable to pass an exam.

Student’s Under Pressure

As exams in schools are getting harder, education is becoming a threat to children’s mental health. The pressure of exams can leave many students with stress related anxiety and increased levels of unhappiness as stated in the 2015 children’s society report. The headmaster of Highfield School has commented in an article that the ‘mental health problems [in children] need to be addressed’.

Furthermore, the ‘Children’s Society’ report has also stated that British girls in particular are becoming increasingly miserable. The study shows that as high as 34% of 10 to 15 year old females were unhappy with their appearance. Appearance and academics may not seem to fit together, but it is important to consider the effects of peer pressure and media input within schools. School children usually obtain issues with their appearance from the media or from the input of their friends. As this is a growing issue, due to being linked to poorer mental health, it is important to start discussing these matters within the classroom. This can help children understand that appearance is not everything and the content they see in the media is promoting unrealistic expectations for both women and men.

Final Thoughts

With many teacher trade unions, such as the NUT (National Union of Teachers) and SLS (School Leaders Scotland), the demand for change is present. The issues within schools such as over-pressuring the students must be addressed in order improve; it may only be a matter of time until our children rank the lowest in terms of happiness. Have your say by tweeting your thoughts on the matter, find us on @TeacherBoards.





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