Most pupils in the UK go back to school the week commencing Monday 4th of September. While some pupils look forward to reuniting with their friends and teachers from last year, others may feel nervous about attending a new school, making new friends and working with new teachers in the coming year. Pupil wellbeing is paramount.
Suppose you are a parent and or a teacher. In that case, this blog sets out to help you understand how children across the country feel using our national datasets to explore pupil wellbeing and experience elements. We also highlight some helpful resources that may interest you to support your child/children/classes in their return to school this September.
Table of contents
What do we know about pupil wellbeing?
We have two surveys that explore pupils' wellbeing: our Pupils Experience and Wellbeing Survey and our Pupil Safeguarding Survey. Both of these surveys are extremely useful for school/ trust leaders looking to understand the experiences and well-being of pupils in their schools or trusts.
Over the last three years, we have learned much about pupils' experiences and wellbeing. Concerning how pupils are feeling lately, we have seen that they generally feel less well in 2022/23 than in the past two academic years, with only 38% of pupils feeling very well or quite well.
When we look at how happy pupils are to be studying at their school, We again see a downward trend over the last three years of data we have collected. Only 51% of pupils felt happy studying at their school in 2022/23, compared with 56% in 2021/22 and 64% in 2020/21.
As well as feeling less happy to be studying at their school in 2022/2023, pupils are also more likely to report feeling overworked in 2022/23, with 52% of pupils feeling overworked very/ quite often compared to 49% in 2021/22 and 44% in 2020/21.
What we can take away from this quick look at pupil wellbeing is that the 2022/2023 academic year has been challenging for pupils and that there is room for development and improvement in the 2023/24 academic year in the support provided to pupils to promote a safe and progress inducive school environment where pupils can flourish.
How did pupils feel transitioning from year 6 to year 7?
Our Safeguarding Survey asked year 6 and 7 pupils about their transition from primary to Secondary school. We asked over 6,000 year 6 students how they felt about starting year 7 the following academic year; 51% of pupils felt anxious, but 48% were excited. There are many reasons why these results may look this way, from primary schools not having the time to focus on transitions to a lack of information readily available to year 6 pupils or heightened anxiety levels following the end of year 6 testing.
We also asked pupils in year 7 how they have felt since starting year 7, and 40% felt confident, 36% felt happy, and 35% felt excited. Responses from year 7 pupils were much more positive when compared to responses from year 6 pupils. This could reflect multiple reasons, from secondary schools working hard to support pupils in their transitions and to ease the nerves when they start attending the school or that the reality is that the transition was less difficult for pupils than they were expecting.
What we can take away from this is that while there are improvements in the ways transitions are talked about in primary school, there are support processes and plans in place when pupils enter their secondary schools in year 7, meaning they feel better once they are there and settled in.
Helpful resources you may consider
Navigating how best to support pupils in their return to school can be confusing and complicated; however, many support avenues are available to you as parents or teachers.
The Red Cross has teaching resources that help pupils:
- Learn how to manage well-being and cope with challenges
- Critically evaluate how human beings deal with emergencies and show resilience
- Prepare for the future, and build resilience.
These allow pupils to develop skills that will benefit them in the future.
The BBC Bitesize team has compiled a very informative resource page of helpful tips, podcasts, and quizzes. The resource page also has practical guidance on revision and study support. The resources shared by BBC Bitesize are specifically designed for those supporting Secondary pupils but are extremely useful for pupils moving into secondary school too.
While preparing pupils for the transition into a new school or year groups/ classes is essential, sometimes, preparation isn't enough, and some pupils require additional support to become acclimated to schools. Mind is a well-known and respected organisation within your person's mental health support space. They are there to support families and professionals who are concerned about someone they know.
Particularly able to help those who may be:
- Worried about a young person's mental health
- Supporting a young person who's living with a mental health problem or experiencing something difficult
- Looking for ways to help yourself or find support for yourself