Iona Jackson is Head of Research at Edurio, managing a team of survey experts and data analysts through projects relating to stakeholder feedback in schools.
New Edurio research reveals half of children feel stressed and a quarter feel lonely.
Edurio has published their latest research examining pupil wellbeing, support systems in school and how pupils feel about school. The study drew on responses from 45,000 children of which 15,000 were from primary.
- Children feel progressively less well as the move through primary school – 76% in year 1 feel well but this drops by 17 percentage points in Y6 when 59% report feeling well.
- Children feel more stressed in Y6 (36%) than in Y1 (22%)
- More primary aged children feel overworked in Y2 and Y3 than at any other time during primary school.
- The research shows that the transition to secondary school has a negative impact on children’s wellbeing and the drop is greater than at other times during school.
- Children’s overall wellbeing drops from 59% feeling well in Y6 to 46% in Y7.
- More students often feel stressed – rising from 36% in Y6 to 43% in Y7
- More children report not sleeping well in Y7 (30%) than in Y6 (28%)
A survey of 45,000 school-aged children conducted by Edurio reveals that less than half (47 per cent) of pupils reported that they had been feeling well in the period leading up to the survey. A similar number (46 per cent) often felt stressed. Added to this, a quarter (24 per cent) of pupils admitted feeling lonely. This is much higher than a previous study by the Office for National Statistics in 2018 which found 11 per cent of 10-15 year olds felt lonely. It suggests that the pandemic has had a significant impact on pupils.
The research, which was conducted during the summer term, found that pupils in the latter stages of their schooling fared worst for overall wellness, sleep and overwork. A third (31 per cent) of pupils in their final year of GCSEs reported feeling well; four in 10 (41 per cent) slept badly; two-thirds (66 per cent) felt overworked and over half (63 per cent) of year 11 pupils felt stressed.
The research found significant differences in wellbeing between girls and boys, with girls reporting lower wellbeing scores. More than half (55 per cent) of girls feel quite or very often stressed compared to just a third (36 per cent) of boys. Almost half (48 per cent) of girls feel frequently overworked compared to just over a third (38 per cent) of boys. Furthermore, less girls (43 per cent) felt well than boys (54 per cent) and less girls (40 per cent) slept well than boys (47 per cent).
Interestingly, the research points to a correlation between pupil wellbeing and a school’s Ofsted rating. Pupils at schools judged ‘outstanding’ have consistently higher stress levels, problems sleeping and feel overworked:
- Almost half of pupils (49 per cent) have felt stressed lately compared to 44 per cent at ‘good’ schools and 45 per cent at ‘requires improvement (RI)’ schools.
- Under half (41 per cent) reported having good sleep compared to 44 per cent at ‘good’ schools and 45 per cent at RI schools.
- Just under half (46 per cent) feel overworked compared to 42 per cent at ’good’ schools and 44 per cent at RI schools.
Edurio found that 71 per cent of students feel safe in class. However, eight per cent reported feeling unsafe in class which means, in an average-sized class, two to three pupils feel unsafe. Furthermore, when there is an issue, less than half (41 per cent) feel they have an adult at school whom they can trust and talk to. Similarly, just over a third (37 per cent) feel that they would rarely or never have an adult at school that they can trust and talk to. So, who do pupils turn to when they feel sad or worried? Almost half (48 per cent) choose to speak to their parents, 41 per cent to their classmates and just 29 per cent choose to speak to teachers. Most concerning is that less than a quarter (15 per cent) do not speak to anyone when they feel sad or worried.
Ernest Jenavs, CEO of Edurio, said: “From the many conversations I have had with school leaders, COVID-19 has magnified the challenges facing pupils. With the spotlight now firmly on wellbeing, we can collectively focus on how to address the issues pupils of all ages are experiencing. We hope our report plays a small part in paving the way for positive, lasting change.”
Co-author of the report, Daniel Muijs, Dean of the School of Education and Society at Academica University of Applied Sciences, and formerly Deputy Director at Ofsted, said: “The report highlights many key areas that warrant further discussion – not just within the education sector – but also within society. A substantial number of children are not happy and many experience sleep problems and stress. Loneliness is increasing and, as children move through education, these negative factors simply get worse. As education leaders, we need to ask ourselves difficult questions about how we can help reduce the pressure of GCSEs and-A Levels; how we can ensure girls as well as boys flourish.
Other notable findings from the research include:
- A far larger proportion of children with extra responsibilities, such as caring for a parent, felt overworked. More than double (65 per cent) reported feeling overworked compared to those without extra responsibilities (30 per cent).
- More than a quarter (28 per cent) of girls felt lonely compared to just under a fifth (18 per cent) of boys.
- Almost two in 10 had been bullied in the three months before they took the survey. Three in 10 know someone else who has been bullied in the three months leading up to the survey.
- Wellness reduces as children progress through primary. 76 per cent of year one pupils reported feeling well lately, but the figure fell dramatically to 59 per cent for those in year six.
- Two-thirds (65 per cent) of pupils are happy to be studying at their school.
- Just under half (43 per cent) of pupils feel that they are quite or very often overworked. Indeed, almost a third (28 per cent) of those who spend less than two hours on homework feel quite or very overworked compared to less than a quarter (20 per cent) of those who spend more than two hours on homework.
The full report can be found at: https://go.edurio.com/pupilwellbeing
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The National Association for Primary Education speaks for young children and all who live and work with them. Find out more about their online CPD events at nape.org.uk/online-events