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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 17:57 GMT
School 'all downhill from age 10'
Children in assembly
Testing increases as pupils grow older
School days may be the best days of your life - but only until you reach the last year of primary school, a survey suggests.

It finds that happiness peaks in the penultimate year, but, because of exams, it is all downhill from then on.

The survey for charity Antidote found pupils' enjoyment of school declines after Year 5, with pupils reaching depths of despair when GCSEs start.

It sought the views of about 8,000 pupils in 25 primaries and secondaries.

As students start work on their GCSEs, over 40% of them experience a low level of well-being
James Park
Antidote director

The educational charity's main finding was that there is a 25% drop in the degree to which students find school enables them to feel capable, listened to, accepted and safe between Years 5 and 10.

In Year 5, when most pupils are about 10 years old, 82% say they are happy, but by the time they are facing their GCSEs only 58% are content.

The charity, which works with schools to improve learning environments, says: "What this tells us is that, as students start work on their GCSEs, over 40% of them experience a low level of well-being.

"Their experience of secondary school has not fostered in them the sort of emotional state that fosters motivation to learn and to get on with each other."

The survey also found three quarters of children in Year 5 said they felt connected to adults and children in school.

Testing times

This had dropped to a third by Year 10.

But there is hope on the horizon, as by the time youngsters reached Year 12 - first year of A-levels - seven out of 10 said they felt enthused by the school environment.

The charity claims pupil well-being is at its peak in primary school because testing is less formal and children are able to build good relationships with their form teachers.

Antidote director James Park said: "These results do more to help us explain why there are so many complaints from school staff and young people being disruptive and becoming disengaged from learning.

"They also tell us where we need to focus if we want to improve the situation."

He added that learning was a "social activity" which grows from students' relationships with adults and peers, and that there was a strong link between levels of creativity and good relationships.

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