Taking care of learner well-being

The summer holidays may seem like a distant memory, but may I pass on my best wishes for the new school year.  It can be easy to miss newly published reports and policies during the summer and when getting stuck in with the demands of a new term.  However, over the summer one report that is worth drawing your attention to is the Children Societies’ Good Childhood Report 2018.

This report looks at long-term trends in subjective well-being for young people aged 11 to 15, over the past 2 decades.

There are some good signs, with significant increase in happiness with family and schoolwork between 1995 and 2016, as well as a large increase in happiness with school between 2004 and 2016.

Mental health

Some of the more startling revelations in the report (covered widely, but perhaps not in great detail in the media) really focused on personal well-being and mental health. The report reveals a strong link between happiness with life as a whole and depression than between either of these and emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Of those young people who had low happiness with life, almost half (47%) also had high depressive symptoms – and vice versa. These measures also varied for different sub-groups of children, with girls having lower well-being and higher depressive symptoms, and boys having greater emotional and behavioural difficulties.

What’s worrying is that children who were attracted to the same gender or both genders had much more negative scores on all these wellbeing measures than other children. This pattern was stronger for well-being and depressive symptoms than for emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Also of concern is that living in a household with lower income was strongly correlated to emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Self-harm

The report also highlighted that girls were more than twice as likely as boys to self-harm, and children who were attracted to children of the same gender or both genders were much more likely to self-harm – with half of those surveyed actually having done so.

We’re in the privileged position in schools to be able to affect a change and influence young peoples’ lives for the better. An increased emphasis on ‘whole school approaches’ to mental health and new consultations on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) are 2 ways we can try to positively affect young people’s mental health. The report also sets out that:

‘Schools should consider the efficacy of shorter, unobtrusive well-being surveys in identifying students who may be in need of support, rather than relying on lengthy surveys which may be distressing for young people to respond to without pastoral support’

With the drive toward progress 8, Ebacc & other drivers of performance in schools, it can be easy for young people’s well-being to be viewed as of secondary importance. This report shows that mental health and wellbeing are actually front & centre of everything we do with young people.

Throughout the year, we’re going to be taking part in these important conversations, offering advice and support to you from the experts we have to hand. We also have a number of qualifications to give these conversations structure and the ability to evidence young people’s learning with a certificate during your PSHE or tutorial time.

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