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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 13:04 GMT
Many students 'often bored' at school
secondary school playground
Most students feel a sense of belonging in school
Just over half the 15 year olds in schools in the UK say they are "often bored".

And four out of 10 say more than five minutes is wasted doing nothing at the start of lessons.

But they are no more disaffected on those measures than most of their peers in 27 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The findings are reported in the OECD's latest annual set of education statistics, Education at a Glance.

Time wasting

Boredom was rife - with on average 48% saying they often felt bored.

In the UK it was 54%, while in Greece and Spain it reached 66% and, worst of all, 67% in the Republic of Ireland.

The OECD says that on average, time wasting at the start of lessons was reported by 39% of 15 year olds, while in the UK it was 41%.

It was worst in Greece (58%), Norway (56%) and Denmark (55%), while students in Hungary were the quickest to get down to work, with only 16% reporting time wasting.

The place to be

UK students were more or less on the average in complaining about noise and disorder in lessons - 27% did so.

There are also wide variations in how students feel about their schools.

In the United Kingdom, 28% say school is somewhere they do not want to go.

The average is 29% but Mexicans are way ahead on this measure - only 9% not wanting to go.

Homework

And 83% in the UK say school is a place where they feel they belong (average 75%). In France it is just 44%.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "A bored pupil is a pupil that's not achieving his potential - and is more likely to play truant.

"That's why good teaching is the best way to promote good behaviour. The government has introduced a wide range of initiatives to improve teaching".

UK students do tend to have more homework in literacy, maths and science - 5.4 hours compared with an average of 4.6 hours.

But they enjoy one of the highest levels of computer access in the OECD - with only eight 15 year olds sharing each PC compared with the average of 13.

UK students also feel under pressure to perform - but they do feel relatively well supported by their teachers.

Other variations

Average class sizes in primary schools range from fewer than 20 pupils in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Switzerland to 31 in Turkey and 36 in Korea.

Taking nine year olds as a snapshot, there is also a wide variation in the amount of time children spend in school - the average being 829 hours a year.

Iceland has the shortest school hours - 630 - while Italy has the longest, at 1,020.

There was an even bigger range outside the OECD, from 455 hours in Uruguay to 1,140 in Chile.

At secondary level, the average 14 year old in an OECD country spends 944 hours a year in class, in a range from 741 hours in Sweden to 1,262 in Austria.

See also:

04 Dec 01 | Education
08 Dec 01 | Mike Baker
12 Feb 03 | Business
29 Oct 02 | Education
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