School stress and teacher trust
School should be a place to learn, make friends, take a break from home life. But our latest well-being research shows that young people are more unhappy with school than many other aspects of their lives. Eamon, 16, tells us why he thinks that is.
Lacking a personal touch
Since the recession in 2008, school budgets have grown smaller. Many schools had to cut down on the number of teachers. This means less personalised teaching. If a student has a problem, it’s harder to get heard. It can be stressful. Eamon points out we are missing a trick here.
‘Stress is an inevitability in school life, especially given how impersonal people assume school to be.’
‘People fall down the rabbit hole that school is just for education and that’s it. This might make someone form a distrust of teachers and school in general.'
They don’t consider that school is basically day-care for all the kids.
School during the pandemic
Eamon says young people are feeling especially isolated since the pandemic.
'The uncertainty of Covid-19, more specifically its restrictions, is paying a price on our generation…we must especially prioritise being social due to how hard it has become.’
Many schools shut during lockdown. Some students could learn from home, some couldn’t. Eamon suggests schools need to think more about the needs of each individual. This one size fits all approach doesn’t work.
Every person has different social needs Every person has different social needs
everyone has different needs
‘For some people, face-to-face interactions are a must, for others video calls are better. I’ve been perfectly fine with talking to my friends via the comfort of home, even though some might not be so comfortable doing that.’
Parents were also worried about the impact of Covid on their children’s education:
how the pandemic affected education
of parents said the pandemic negatively impacted their children's education
of parents said their children were less happy with their progress at school
Beyond the schoolwork
Students might find it hard to talk to teachers about mental health problems. They could be treated differently in front of everybody else. Or they might just be embarrassed about opening up.
Eamon acknowledges that ‘not every school handles mental health properly’ but argues ‘even if you hold a specific distrust for teachers, you can ask for help from teaching assistants and friends’.
When asked if he would ever turn to staff in school about a mental health problem he explained ‘it all boils down to whether I trust the teacher or school and how they would use my information.’
‘Before telling them, I feel like you should ask yourself, is it necessary? If I tell them, am I going to be treated differently? It might be important, like in education, but I don’t feel like we are pushed to be social and open up.’
Making schools a happier place
As Eamon points out, more can be done to make schools a happier place for young people. They should be safe spaces to sharing their thoughts and talk about their problems. They should recognise that each child is unique with individual hopes and dreams.
The pandemic has made things difficult for teachers and students. Many would’ve felt isolated, unsupported, demotivated. But as society returns to normal, the government must take stock, overhaul what isn’t working and build a society for all children.