A simple new questionnaire based on emoticon-style facial expressions could help teachers and others who work with children as young as four to engage them on their happiness and wellbeing levels in the classroom
A simple new questionnaire based on emoticon-style facial expressions could help teachers and others who work with children as young as four to engage them on their happiness and wellbeing levels in the classroom.
The How I Feel About My School questionnaire, designed by experts at the University of Exeter Medical School, is available to download for free. It uses emoticon-style faces with options of happy, ok or sad. It asks children to rate how they feel in seven situations including on the way to school, in the classroom and in the playground. It is designed to help teachers and others to communicate with very young children on complex emotions.
The project was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula ( NIHR PenCLAHRC).
Professor Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Exeter Medical School, led the design, involving children to give feedback on which style of questionnaire they could relate to best. She said: "When we're carrying out research in schools, it can be really hard to meaningfully assess how very young children are feeling. We couldn't find anything that could provide what we needed, so we decided to create something."
The questionnaire is now the subject of a paper in Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. It finds that parents and teachers consistently score children's happiness levels slightly higher than children score their own. The team consulted children to find a format that they could relate to and engage with. Once completed, the questionnaire has an easy scoring system, out of 14. An average score is around 11 or 12, with children who are encountering particular difficulties at school scoring lower. Those experiencing suspension or expulsion from school, for example, typically scored around eight or lower.
The need arose from the Supporting Teachers and Children in Schools study, led by Professor Ford, which is analysing whether a course designed to improve teachers' classroom management skills is effective. Professor Ford said: "We needed a simple way for children of all ages to tell us how they are feeling in relation to different areas of schooling. Our new resource makes that possible. More than 2,000 children in Devon have now completed the questionnaire. It has proved a very useful tool, and I hope schools will take advantage of this free resource to open up conversations with children in talking about their feelings and to give them a voice, particularly around key decisions that may affect them."
As Ken Robinson might say, why would anyone think they wouldn't?
But perhaps we need to think more carefully about the effects on children's development, about the meaning of the work education, and about its derivation - e-ducare (to lead forth) too? Here is the BBC article, published 3rd February 2017.
bbc.co.ukTight budgets harm standards, says world school ranking boss - BBC News
Image caption Andreas Schleicher said budget pressure on schools would harm quality
Financial pressure on schools in England will harm standards, one of the most influential figures in world education has warned.
Tighter school budgets mean "you lose and lack in quality", said Andreas Schleicher, boss of the PISA global education rankings.
His comments came amid growing concern among educationalists about school funding shortages in England.
Ministers said it was "incorrect" to say they were making cuts.
"If you take the same system and you take money out of it you lose and lack in quality. I think there's no question around it," Mr Schleicher, told the Times Educational Supplement (TES).
Budget squeezeIn December, the National Audit Office warned that schools in England were facing real terms cuts.
And head teachers have been warning about having to cut school hours, governors have threatened to refuse to sign off budgets and grammar school leaders have said they might have to start charging parents.
Last week, heads were angered when it was revealed that £384m earmarked for converting schools into academies last year had been taken back by the Treasury.
And a government plan to overhaul how school funding is allocated, which is intended to resolve long-standing anomalies in levels of funding, will alsorisk cuts in most schools, according to teachers' unions.
Mr Schleicher, education director of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, which runs the PISA rankings, told the TES that in high performing education systems like China, parents and government prioritised spending on education children.
"They invest in the future," he said. "The UK has already spent the money on consumption today, that's where the debt crisis came from.
"It's a value choice of societies to make. Education really is an important choice; that is the future.
"The school system today is your economy tomorrow, and that is something I worry about when governments have an attitude of. 'Oh well, let's cut some corners here'."
Flat resultsThe latest PISA ranking, published in December, showed the UK lagging behind, having made little progress since the previous set of results, published three years previously.
The rankings, based on tests taken by 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries, showed the UK not only behind top performers such as Singapore and Finland but also trailing Vietnam, Poland and Estonia.
Image copyright NTU
Image caption Singapore had the highest achieving schools
England had the strongest results in the UK - but they were described at the time as "flat in a changing world".
At the time, Mr Schleicher raised concerns that teacher shortages were "a major bottleneck" to raising standards.
In response to his latest comments, a Department for Education spokesman said the government had protected core schools' funding "and it is now at a record level - more than £40bn this year".
The spokesman said these figures meant it was "incorrect to say that we are taking money out of the system".
"We recognise, however, that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value for their pupils."
I was a psychology and social sciences teacher for many years and now I am in the throes of a teaching and research career in HE. I care passionately about education. This blog will show you why and how.