Rebalance education system to focus on wellbeing, say teachers and parents

Rebalance education system to focus on wellbeing, say teachers and parents

82% of teachers agree that the focus on exams has become disproportionate to the overall wellbeing of students, according to a YouGov survey

82% of teachers agree that the focus on exams has become disproportionate to the overall wellbeing of students, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the charity YoungMinds, while 70% think that the government should rebalance the education system to focus more on student wellbeing.

A separate YouGov survey of 1,003 parents across Britain showed that:

  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of parents would choose a school where children are happy even if previous exam results have not been good.
  • 92% of parents think that schools have a duty to support the wellbeing and mental health of students, while more than half (53%) want more information about what their child’s school is doing to promote it.

The results suggest that the current education system is “fundamentally unbalanced”, according to YoungMinds, with an over-emphasis on exams and too little focus on student mental health. The charity has launched its Wise Up campaign, alongside the National Children’s Bureau, and is calling on teachers, parents and pupils to sign an open letter to Theresa May, urging her to rebalance the system so that wellbeing can be a priority for all schools.

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said:

“There is a mental health crisis in our classrooms. Children and young people today face a huge range of pressures, from exam stress to cyberbullying to finding a job when they finish education, and all the evidence suggests that the situation is getting worse.

“Schools are critical in helping prevent mental health problems escalating, in building wellbeing and resilience and helping young people learn the skills they need to cope in today’s world.

“Many schools are already doing excellent work, but too often they are hampered by competing pressures and a lack of resources. If the government is serious about tackling the crisis, it must rebalance the whole education system.”

The surveys also revealed that:

  • 91% of teachers would welcome greater recognition of the work they do to support wellbeing.
  • 71% of teachers say that they would welcome a duty on schools to promote wellbeing.
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of teachers would welcome a change to the Ofsted framework so that the student wellbeing is given a greater focus, with other elements reduced.

James Hollinsley, Head Teacher at Longwood Primary Academy, said:

“YoungMinds’ new Wise Up campaign is crucial to the improvement of our next generation’s mental health and wellbeing. By formally acknowledging schools’ efforts in pupils’ wellbeing, and placing this on par with that of academic achievement, our nation will thrive. I would encourage all school leaders to join YoungMinds in the call for not just ‘education, education, education’ but ‘wellbeing, wellbeing, wellbeing’, celebrating what schools do best in the interests of the children.”

To sign the open letter to Theresa May, go to https://act.youngminds.org.uk/wise-up

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