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Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

UK children are among the unhappiest in the world

Teenagers in UK schools are significantly less satisfied with their lives than their peers worldwide, a new survey suggests.

Just over half of students polled in the UK gave their life satisfaction level a score of seven or higher out of 10, according to data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The average across the OECD’s 37 member countries was 67%, meaning two in three students are happy with their lives.

The UK’s score of 53% is significantly below the likes of Colombia, Estonia and the US – nations which scored 73%, 70% and 61%, respectively.

Some 3.6% of UK students polled gave their life satisfaction a score of 0 – representing ‘not at all satisfied’ – the lowest of any OECD country except for Turkey on 8.2%.

And only 35% of UK students described themselves as ‘always happy’ – well below the OECD average of 41% – while 8.7% said they always felt sad, above the OECD average of 6.5%.

The data, based on responses from nearly 14,000 UK students across more than 500 schools, found that 27% of UK kids reported being bullied at least a few times a month.

This compared with the 23% average across the 36 OECD countries with relevant data, putting the UK seventh in the table of highest percentage of bullied students.

In the UK, 19% confessed to skipping school at some point in the fortnight leading up to the survey, but that was lower than the OECD average of 21% and significantly lower than Italy on 57%.

Meanwhile, the results of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey showed this morning that England’s pupils continue to climb the international league tables on academic success, particularly in mathematics.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Given the very difficult circumstances in which they have been forced to operate over the past ten years, teachers and school leaders deserve huge praise for sustaining, and even improving England’s performance compared to other nations.

‘But these results have come despite the system rather than because of it – and at what cost?

‘Imagine how much more we could have achieved if the government had made education and young people a priority over the last ten years.

‘The impressive statistics around maths are tarnished by the worryingly high percentages of miserable and worried pupils.’

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