Skip to main content

Redesigning school

School is for young people, right? Then how come so many children are dissatisfied with school right now? Alongside appearance and friendships, it’s one of the main causes of unhappiness in young people. We asked Linh why she thinks that is and what could be done to make it work better for young people.


What do children want from school?

Deep down, young people do want an education, but not the stress and unhappiness that comes with it. We want to socialise and have fun, make memorable experiences. We want to learn valuable skills that would help us later in life, things like how to do taxes or mortgages, how to use a screwdriver and build flatpack furniture, how to cook a nutritious meal, how to budget, how to cope with depression, trauma, proper sex education.

We want to learn how to budget, how to do taxes...

inequality of learning

two pupils in a classroom smiling looking at a mechanics project

Isn't that for parents?

Yes, parents can teach them that. But believe it or not inequality is a thing and not all young people have parents they can rely on to teach them those things.

Also young people want to explore as many things as possible, to help them figure out what their passion is in life. Because many don’t have the privilege to do that outside of school.

girl with big smile on swing looking at camera

The Good Childhood Report

Our Good Childhood Report 2021 shows that modern life continues to erode the happiness of young people. Worried about school, friendships and how they look, this has become the norm for children.

Anything else you think should be taught?

We also want to be educated on other peoples culture, so our peers don’t have to wonder why some Muslims wear a niqab, why not everyone brings in sandwiches for lunch and have ‘smelly’ food instead, why some Asians eat dogs and why that shouldn’t be so stigmatised, and why it’s normal not to celebrate Christmas.

There’s so many more ‘common sense’ things that should be taught in school. Like why racism is bad, why women deserve respect, why immigrants don’t actually steal your jobs.

More common sense things should be taught in school

the reason children are unhappy

So, is this the reason children are unhappy?

Partly, yes. Also, academic pressure, the monotony of school - having to wake up every day, put on the same outfit, do the same five lessons that are taught in the same way and knowing that they’ll repeat this until they’re at least 16. Only then they can choose for themselves what they want to do.

The people at school also play a big part in this. If you have no friends then things like pairing up for partners, sitting at lunch can be torture. If you don’t fit in then you may feel excluded or even bullied, and there’s many reasons to not fit in. Things from not having an iPhone to just looking ‘different’ to everyone else.

sport coach talking with girl holding rugby ball

How can we make school a happier place?

Give young people more choice and more say in what they do at school. Implement new and innovative teaching styles. Shift the focus from exam and grades to learning.

Focus more on the student’s mental health and overall well-being

Our latest Good Childhood Report found that school is among the top causes of dissatisfaction in adolescents. If we want to turn this around, we need to start listening to young people like Linh. We must overhaul daily life and build a society for all children.