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Teenage students 'perform better and are happier with support from teachers'

21/04/2017 Joanna

Teenage school pupils are more likely to feel happy and get better grades when they have the right support from teachers and parents.

This was one of the key findings of the broad-ranging PISA assessment of student wellbeing from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which surveyed 540,000 students in 72 countries who also completed the main OECD PISA 2015 test on science, mathematics and reading.

On average across OECD countries, most 15-year-old students were shown to be happy with their lives, reporting a score of 7.3 on a scale of life satisfaction ranging from zero to ten. However, a number of educational and school-related factors can affect this.

Anxiety about schoolwork and tests was common, with 59 per cent of students saying they often worry that taking a test will be difficult, while 66 per cent reported feeling stressed about poor grades. Around 55 per cent said they were anxious even if they had prepared well for the test.

Across all countries, girls reported greater schoolwork-related anxiety than boys, with this anxiety shown to be negatively related to performance. Bullying was also a major issue, with around four per cent of students - roughly one per class - reported being hit or pushed at least a few times per month.

However, the study also showed that happier students tended to report positive relations with teachers, with students in schools where life satisfaction was above the national average also noting a higher level of support from teachers. Bullying was also shown to be lower in schools where students have positive relationships with their teachers.

Additionally, parents who spent time talking to their children, eating together around a table or discussing school life were more likely to be raising teenagers with high levels of life satisfaction.

Gabriela Ramos, chief of staff at the OECD, said: "These findings show how teachers, schools and parents can make a real difference to children's wellbeing.

"Together they can help young people develop a sense of control over their future and the resilience they need to be successful in life. There is no secret, you perform better if you feel valued, if you feel well treated, if you are given a hand to succeed."

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