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Irish children's self image is worse in smaller classrooms, study finds

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 16/07/2015. Irish children's self image is worse in smaller classrooms, study findsTags: Education And Politics

A new report from the ongoing Growing Up In Ireland Study by the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has revealed some startling results on Irish children’s well being.

The report, which surveyed 7,500 students in Ireland, found that girls in mixed grade settings (more than one grade in classroom) perform worse in class. According to research:

“[Their] behaviour, are less confident as learners, see themselves as less popular and are more negative about their physical appearance than those in single-grade settings. This seems to result from comparing themselves to their, often older, peers and making negative self-evaluations”

Also, self image is poorer among those in a small school settings with students struggling because of ‘the greater use of multi-grade settings and a greater emphasis on teacher monitoring of behaviour in smaller schools. The fact that larger schools are in urban areas, where child self-image tends to be more positive, also plays a part.’


The report finds that the because of the negative well being of pupils surveyed there are implications for policy, with more emphasis on teacher training:

“The findings point to the importance of supporting teachers through initial teacher education and continuous professional development in using approaches which engage students with different abilities and self-images.”

According to the author of the report, Emer Smyth:

‘The quality of relations with teachers plays an important protective role in children’s wellbeing within primary school and over the transition to second-level education. A positive and supportive relationship with teachers not only helps students cope with schoolwork but influences how they view themselves more generally.’

Sarah Fitzpatrick, Deputy CEO of the NCCA, said:

‘This study takes us beyond academic achievement to a more profound understanding of the role of education and the responsibilities of teachers in nurturing children’s wellbeing. Findings affirm the direction of curriculum developments at primary, i.e., greater emphasis on life-skills and on children’s social and emotional development. There are implications for how we understand differentiation in the primary classroom and ultimately, how teachers are supported to meet the very individual needs of each child/young person in their care.’

For full report, see ESRI



(09-08-2015 16:17)

I went to a small one teacher rural school. I have very happy memories of my time there. My nieces and nephews are there now and they are very happy. My nieces' response to this report was to say children are happier in small schools because they know all the children in the school. I have worked in larger schools and many of the teachers' complained about the lack of space in the classroom. One teacher working in a prefab with over 30 children commented on how cranky the children were with each other, how all the children in a row had to stand up to let each other into their desks. There were also many more instances of bullying and exclusion in large town schools . Children in smaller schools have much more one to one time with their teachers. This is particularly important for children with learning difficulties. Instead of these reports, which do little to improve the educational experience of our children, the government should reduce class sizes. The children with the lowest self esteem in schools are children struggling to cope with their class curriculum. These children will never thrive in overcrowded.

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