Female pupils have higher levels of anxiety than male peers, research shows

Quizzed about their wellbeing, girls were found to be significantly more anxious than boys and reported poorer wellbeing scores

Female pupils currently have substantially lower levels of wellbeing, and higher levels of anxiety, than male pupils, new research shows.

The study, conducted by social enterprise ImpactEd, involved 15,949 pupils age 6-18 in England. They were surveyed between September and November this year.

Although girls were found to be more anxious than boys, the research showed that this is not related to learning – suggesting other influences such as social media may be having a negative impact on girls.

The study also found that economically disadvantaged pupils were falling behind their advantaged peers. Pupil Premium pupils, and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), reported higher anxiety and lower wellbeing, metacognition and learning engagement than their peers.

Furthermore, pupils with access to outdoor and quiet working spaces at home reported higher levels of wellbeing than those who do not.

All of the schools involved – including three independent schools – have received individual-level data on the learning and wellbeing of their pupils, so they can put in place the relevant support to address educational disadvantage.

Owen Carter, co-founder and managing director at ImpactEd, said: “In the report, we show how a one-to-one support programme was highly effective at supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils. And we also draw attention to how schools can use diagnostic tools to better understand factors affecting pupils’ home life and learning, so they can help their pupils in the most effective and impactful way.”

With growing concerns about the effect of the new Omicron strain of Covid-19 on school disruptions, these findings indicate the impact of the pandemic on child wellbeing and education.

Other findings

  1. Pupils in exam and transition years (years 6, 11 and 13) have started the academic year with higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of wellbeing than pupils one year younger than them.
  2. Providing carefully planned one-to-one support to disadvantaged pupils can positively affect their academic, social and emotional development.
  3. Pupils who have the lowest wellbeing and struggle the most with learning, appear to be the pupils experiencing multiple challenging factors eg those who are both Pupil Premium and SEND.

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