Pupils give schools a good report
27 March 2009
School Year 11, when most pupils take their GCSEs, could be a stressful time. But new research from the Children of the 90s (ALSPAC) study indicates that most pupils are enjoying school life and are optimistic about the future.
ALSPAC has been following the health and development of 14,000 children born in 1991-2 in the old county of Avon (the area around Bristol and Bath). These children are now aged 16 to 18, and span 3 school years.
ALSPAC worked with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to conduct a detailed survey of the attitudes of these young people and their parents when they are preparing for exams in Year 11. Pupils at both state and private schools took part.
Most of the Children of the 90s have now passed through Year 11, and they were surveyed in Spring 2007 and Spring 2008. Their responses show:
- 79% like being at school.
- 82% believe that people think their school is good
- 84% think it is very important to get 5 GCSEs at level C or above – and 88% believe they are likely to achieve this
Parents also hold positive views:
- 95% think that the standard of education in their child’s school is good or very good
- 85% think that behaviour is good or very good
- 93% agree the school is welcoming
- 87% think the school gives clear information about their child’s progress
When it comes to future plans, most pupils want to continue studying:
- 91% said they intended to stay in full-time education when they finish Year 11.
- 65% think they will go to University.
- 72% say they feel comfortable about coping with an interview for a course or a job, and equally confident about starting college or work.
On the negative side 40% of young people thought that pupils at their school were sometimes disruptive, and 62% said they were sometimes noisy. They also admitted faults in their own behaviour:
- 37% have arrived late for lessons
- 20% have skipped classes and 12% have skipped a whole day
- 14% have got into physical fights
- 5% have been suspended or excluded
- 13% have copied material from the internet or other pupils
- 18% report experiencing some form of bullying at least once during the year.
Nevertheless, the overall picture is positive, and most of the young people do not appear to have been badly affected by exam pressure.
Note: This research project will continue for another school year, as the last ALSPAC year group passes through Year 11. The responses reported here came from the first two year groups, totalling 4377 young people and 4869 parents. The majority of ALSPAC families still live in the Avon (Bristol and Bath) area, and 85% of the pupils in the survey attend schools in this area. 87% of those who responded to the survey are at state schools, 13% at private schools.
- ALSPAC The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (also known as Children of the 90s) is a unique ongoing research project based in the University of Bristol. It enrolled 14,000 mothers during pregnancy in 1991-2 and has followed most of the children and parents in minute detail ever since.
- The ALSPAC study could not have been undertaken without the continuing financial support of the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of Bristol among many others.