High demands in school – a risk for pupils’ health
Pupils in classes with high school-related demands are at a higher risk to develop ill health than pupils in classes with lower demands. Also, the girls’ health is affected in a more negative way by high demands than boys’ health. This is the result of a doctoral thesis of Mid Sweden University which analyzes more than 8 000 children in primary and lower-secondary school in Sweden.
A great part of the children’s day is spent in school and not only social relationships in school have an impact on their mental health. The risk of physical and mental illnesses increases with the level of school-related demands in the class.
A doctoral thesis at Mid Sweden University reveals that in classes with high demands, pupils report impaired health, such as low-spiritedness, sleeping problems and headache, more often than in classes with low demands, regardless of how the children perceive the demands. The risk of pupils reporting impaired health is 50 per cent higher in classes with high demands than in classes with low demands.
The doctoral student Ulrika Eriksson has studied different social factors in the in the school and in the community and how this is related to the children’s self-reported health. In March, she publicly defended her thesis at the Department of Health Sciences of Mid Sweden University, a thesis that analyzes more than 8 000 children in the grades 5, 7 and 9 from the whole country.
– Health and well-being is not only influenced by individual factors. Norms and values also seem to have a substantial influence on how children perceive their health, says Ulrika Eriksson.
High school-related demands were measured in the study through three statements: ”I have too much school work”- ”I think school work is hard”- ”School work makes me tired”. The results show that girls are affected in a more negative way than boys by high school-related demands.
– It is important to show the gender differences when you look at the demands and how they are related to children’s health, says Ulrika Eriksson. It is possible that the existing norms and expectations on girls and boys can either protect children or be risks for their well-being.
– Teachers play an important part in creating a positive social climate in the classroom and they have the opportunity to clarify the demands and how the pupils can meet them. The demands should be directly related to the capacity of the pupil and create a feeling of success and development rather than failure, says Ulrika Eriksson.
Developing a programme to support and encourage teachers in this work would be of great importance to health promotion work in school.
The entire thesis is available here»