The best way to ensure pupils stay happy and stress free at school


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All parents want their children to be happy at school. However, we often see articles in the press about young people finding school life to be very stressful. Is there a fundamental flaw with the way schools operate today or is there some other underlying cause?

This is a complex issue which has been hotly debated by educationalists, sociologists and psychologists. One thing is clear, it is not a phenomenon which is unique to the UK. A recent survey covering High School students across the whole of the USA gave a rather bleak message: Tired (39%), stressed (29%), and bored (26%) were the three most common responses to the survey of 22,000 students inquiring about how they currently felt in school.

A distinguished former Headmaster, Rev Christopher Jamison, offers a possible solution in his book – Finding Happiness. He believes that it has been a good thing for schools to consider the wellbeing of their pupils in a more formal way. However, he goes on to point out that goodness and virtue are essential components of happiness. Of course, this idea is not new. It is firmly rooted in all the major religions and can be traced back to the philosophy of Socrates.

What is the way ahead? Yes, we must try to encourage young people to become less attached to technology and social media and thereby allow them to engage with each other in person. This will give them more periods of quiet, reflective time in which they can recharge their batteries. But this is not enough. Good schools recognise that it is character formation which is the key to developing happy, contented, confident young people. This is no easy task and requires an ongoing commitment to do the very best to help each pupil at every stage of their educational journey, from Nursery until they leave the school.

Cranmore School has always put the development and well-being of the child at the core of its mission. We recognise the importance of attainment through academic achievement, sport, music and many other pursuits. However, such success can be hollow if the child does not receive the essential nurturing and support from the wider school community. Each child is under the direct care of a Form Teacher but we also have Year-Group Co-ordinators, a traditional House System, Nursing Staff and access to a qualified child counsellor. Together, this team of professionals ensures that children have the care and attention they need to promote their emotional development. Cranmore was graded excellent for every category in its last full inspection report but it was reassuring to see that the quality of pastoral care was identified as a real strength:

“The pupils’ personal development is supported by excellent pastoral care, based on the teachers’ good knowledge of individuals, and caring relationships.”

In my view, this is the best strategy to ensure that pupils do not fall into a pit of self-doubt and misery. It is the quality of the relationships between staff and the pupils in their care which ultimately determines the pupils’ well-being.

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