April 18, 2024

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The largest study carried out on school life in Primary Education (6 to 12 years old) confirms that children love going to school. They consider that they have a good relationship with their teachers (generally, female teachers), and also with their classmates, although not so much, and they think that their families are happy with their school. Teachers value the relationship with their students above all, followed by the relationship they have with the rest of the teaching staff, and value positively, although less, the relationship they have with their families.

The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Education to the University of Alcalá, directed by the professor of Didactics and School Organization Juan Carlos Torrego and presented this Wednesday at the meeting of the Observatory of School Coexistence, an advisory body in which the representatives of the educational community, is based on 37,333 surveys, 70% of them conducted with students from public, subsidized, and private centers, and the rest with families, teachers, principals, and counselors. 9.5% of children say they have suffered bullying (and 9.2%, cyberbullying), a percentage that, while relevant, is lower than the estimates made by other institutions, such as the Anar Foundation, which have come offering percentages close to 25% in some cases. The new research, titled State Study on School Coexistence in Primary Education Centers, reflects that 4.5% of children admit to having bullied their peers (and 4.6%, having cyberbullied). And that 20% of the students consider that there are children in their school who suffer, to a medium or high degree, a situation of “social isolation”.

One in 10 students claims to have witnessed bullying of other children. Asked what their reaction was, 30.9% ensure that they notified a teacher, 20.2% the family, and 14.8% a classmate. And on a theoretical level, when 100% of the students surveyed were asked about how they would react in the event of witnessing a bullying situation, 43.4% affirmed that they would tell a teacher, 64% “who would try to help them even if it was not his friend”, 37.8% would help him if he were his friend, and 33% would “talk to whoever messes with that partner”. 2.3% responded that they would not do anything, and slightly less than 1% (0.98%), that they would “laugh”.

The negative behaviors for coexistence that students consider most frequent in their schools are the fact that there are children who “talk a lot in class, interrupting the teachers” (a third consider it quite or very frequent), “annoyance from other classmates” (the 45%), fights (38%), “insults and nicknames” (40%), and “vandalism with deterioration of material” (20%).

The overall assessment that children make of going to school is, however, very positive, consistent with what other studies have been publishing, which place the crisis of the school vocation later, when taking the step to Secondary Education. Given the statement “I feel comfortable at this school”, with 0 not at all and 10 totally, the average grade given by the kids is 9.24. “My family is happy with this school”, 9.39. “My family is interested in my work at school”, 9.43. “My relationship with the teaching staff is good”, 9.11. The teachers treat us fairly”, 9,12. “The teachers listen to me when I have something to tell them”, 9.2.

Children also put a good mark, although not as high, on the relationship they have with each other. “My relationship with my colleagues is good”, 8.83. “Other colleagues like me”, 8.44. “I feel that all my colleagues treat me well”, 8.43. “I make friends easily”; 8.26. “The students help each other, even if we are not friends”, 7.97. The study mentions another major piece of research on school life, commissioned in 2010 by the Ministry of Education and focused on the Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) stage, in which students gave significantly lower scores to relationships with their teachers ( 72.4%) felt satisfied with them and with their partners (68%).

The report prepared by the Educational Research Team (Imeca) of the University of Alcalá allows us to observe the quality of coexistence among students through the eyes of other members of the educational community. And the result varies according to the responsibility they occupy. The most optimistic are the members of the management teams, who rate the “relationships between students” with 8.29. Teachers, with 7.88, and members of guidance services (who due to their role tend to get involved in the most serious conflicts) with 7.8.

The same happens with the “global vision of coexistence” in the school, which the directors consider very good, 8.59, and the teachers and counselors a little less (8.19). “The general level of satisfaction with school life,” the authors of the report state, “is important because it directly affects educational quality, improving academic performance, well-being, and students’ self-esteem, and preventing different expressions of violence such as Bullying”. In the report on ESO published in 2010 and directed by Professor María José Aguado, the percentage of teachers who considered “global coexistence in centers” to be good was 72%.

The opinion of the teachers

The teachers value the relationship they have with the students well, above all, 8.62, followed by the relationship they have with the rest of the teachers, 8.78. And one step below, the one they have with families, 7.82. The group valued the “resources for managing coexistence available to them” worse, with 7.92; the “institutional documentation to improve coexistence” (that is, the paperwork that they have to fill out in this regard), with 7.79; the “conflict detection tools” within their reach, with 6.08, and the “methodological curricular aspects” (in the sense of how the way of teaching and evaluating facilitate a good climate in the classroom), with a 6 .96.

There are no indications in the report that Primary school teachers present a problem of the so-called burned-out worker syndrome (burnout), which is associated with emotional exhaustion caused by job performance. Being 0 feeling completely burnt out and 10 not burnt out at all, teachers rank at 8.74, counselors at 8.58, and members of management teams at 8.91.

The families of the students, whose members represent 19% of the total respondents in the study, that is, 7,093 people (teachers represent 8%, almost 3,000, members of management teams, 2%, and counselors, 1%), also consider the level of school coexistence very positive. The grade they give to the climate of the center where their children are enrolled is 8.3. And curiously, they see positive, above all, the relationship between the families themselves and the teachers (8.8), above that which they attribute to the relationship between teachers and students (8.27), to the degree of knowledge of friends of their children (8.01) or their feeling of belonging to the center (8.11). They are also satisfied with the measures adopted to “improve the participation of families” in the life of the school (8.55).

Warning about cases of abuse

The authors of the report emphasize that both the teaching staff and the members of the management teams and the guidance services consider that child sexual abuse “is a non-existent reality in their centers”. It is “difficult to know what the real frequency of the problem is,” the researchers admit, but they recall that Save the Children has estimated that in Europe between 14% and 28% of girls and 4% and 12% of boys they have suffered sexual abuse in their childhood, “which could make us think that it is a very invisible reality of which we may not be aware”. And that the most frequent incidence of sexual violence occurs in girls, between 7 and 10 years old, and among boys, between 11 and 12. That is, in the primary school period. “This”, they conclude, “should lead us to think about the need to train teachers and education professionals on the detection of child sexual abuse”.

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