Happiness increases among secondary pupils
A major study into the health of the nation's pupils has revealed that 11 to 16-year-olds are enjoying school more and feeling less pressure than they were four years earlier.
The international Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey, organised by the World Health Organisation, also shows that incidents of in-school bullying and playground fighting have decreased since 200506.
The Ipsos Mori survey questioned more than 9,100 pupils at 82 mainstream secondary schools across Wales in the 200910 academic year. The findings, published last week, provide a snapshot of the feelings and attitudes of pupils in Years 7, 9 and 11.
When asked how they felt about school, a greater percentage of pupils in Years 7 and 9 said they liked it "a lot" than in 200506. The most satisfied pupils were in Year 7, where 45 per cent responded in this way, compared to 33 per cent in the previous survey.
Fewer pupils in Years 7, 9 and 11 said they felt "a lot" or "some" pressure at school than previously, with the number of Year 11 pupils feeling pressurised falling by 7.5 per cent.
The positive news comes after a series of criticisms of the Welsh education system, including a poor set of results in the international Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings.
The number of pupils who said they had been in a fight three or more times in the past year fell in Years 7, 9 and 11, although more than twice as many boys than girls are still involved in playground tussles at all ages.
Incidents of bullying have also decreased, with fewer pupils in each year group saying they are bullied regularly or bully others. Only 10 per cent of 11-year-olds said they were bullied two to three times a month in 200910, compared with 13.5 per cent in 200506.
Professor Ken Reid, chairman of the groundbreaking National Behaviour and Attendance Review, welcomed the "long overdue" good news. He said: "These figures are very encouraging. In terms of school satisfaction, this may be an indication that the revised curriculum is beginning to have an effect and that school councils are starting to have a positive impact on pupil well-being and inclusion."
Professor Reid said it was likely that improved training for teachers, effective anti-bullying policies, and a more visible and accessible community police presence was having an impact on the amount of bullying taking place in schools.
The Assembly government has used some of the data to create its Children and Young People's Well-being Monitor, which will inform future policy.
Speaking at the recent launch of the monitor, deputy children's minister Huw Lewis said: "The well-being and happiness of children and young people in Wales is one of our highest priorities, so we need accurate information in order to make good decisions on how to achieve that."
Original headline: Happiness increases among secondary pupils, survey shows