What do 12-year-olds think about school?

A new survey has uncovered some surprising views among 12-year-olds – particularly around their use of social media

What do 12-year-olds think about school?

There are some eye-catching findings in a new report that looks at the educational and other experiences of 12-year-olds in Scotland.

Perhaps most notably, 15 per cent of girls are found to spend five or more hours per school day on social media or messaging people. The report from the Growing Up in Scotland longitudinal study also found that parents of girls are considerably more likely than parents of boys to want their child to attend university, while boys are more likely to say they enjoy science.

Here is a round-up of some the most striking findings from the report, published today, which involved 3,419 families and children who were mostly in the second term of their first year at secondary school:

Social media

On an average school day, most children (57 per cent) spent less than two hours on social media or messaging people via text, Instagram, Snapchat or online games.

Overall, boys spent less time on social media than girls. Boys were more likely than girls to report not spending any time on social media on an average school day (14 per cent compared with 5 per cent). Girls were more likely than boys to spend five or more hours per school day on social media or messaging people (15 per cent compared with 10 per cent).

Children who spent less time on social media or messaging tended to have higher life satisfaction than both those who spent a lot of time on social media and those who spent no time on social media. Those who spent between 30 minutes and two hours on social media or messaging people (on an average school day) reported the highest life satisfaction. Children who spent seven or more hours daily reported the lowest average score, but those who spent no time at all on social media on an average school day also had lower-than-average life satisfaction.


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Enjoyment of school

Some 53 per cent of children said they often or always looked forward to going to school, while 68 per cent often or always enjoyed learning at school. Girls were more likely than boys to say that they always enjoy learning at school (25 per cent compared with 16 per cent) and that they always look forward to going to school (19 per cent compared with 13 per cent).

Pressure at school

Some 30 per cent of children said they didn’t feel pressured at all by the schoolwork they had to do, while 55 per cent felt a little pressured, 11 per cent said quite a lot and 4 per cent a lot. There was no statistically significant difference between boys and girls.

Enjoyment of certain subjects

Girls were more likely than boys to say they liked English and modern languages a lot (43 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, compared with 34 per cent and 20 per cent for boys). In contrast, 49 per cent of boys said they liked science a lot, compared with 42 per cent of girls. The difference in the numbers of boys and girls who liked maths was not statistically significant.

Staying in education

Most children (77 per cent) were keen to stay in education after the age of 16. Only 5 per cent said they wanted to leave education at 16, while 19 per cent were unsure. Girls were more likely than boys to want to stay in education after the age of 16 (81 per cent compared with 72 per cent) and boys were more likely than girls to want to leave (6 per cent compared with 3 per cent).

Children living in a household where at least one parent had degree-level qualifications were more likely than those whose parents had no qualifications to want to remain in education after the age of 16 (83 per cent compared with 65 per cent).

Aspiring to university

Most parents said they would like their child to attend university (61 per cent) while a significant minority said that they didn’t really mind what their child did (15 per cent). Some 13 per cent wanted their child to stop their education after achieving school-level qualifications.

Parents of girls were more likely than parents of boys to want their child to attend university (67 per cent compared with 56 per cent). Parents of boys were more likely than parents of girls to report that they didn’t really mind (18 per cent compared with 13 per cent).

Friends

Boys were more likely than girls to have found making new friends easy (88 per cent compared with 82 per cent). However, girls were more likely than boys to say they could always count on their friends when they had a problem (62 per cent compared with 45 per cent).

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