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Poll shows students lack hope, engagement, wellbeing

A national poll of school students in years 5–12 showed that less than half are hopeful about their future, their enthusiasm for school declines as they get older, and more than one-third of students are struggling in terms of wellbeing.

The Gallup Student Poll 2016 surveyed 11,000 students from across Australia. It showed only 48 per cent of them are hopeful about their future. In the survey, Gallup stated “the ideas and energy we have for the future drives effort, academic achievement and retention of students of all ages”.

Gallup also said only 59 per cent of those surveyed said they are engaged with school. The survey defined engagement as “the involvement in and enthusiasm for school, [which] reflects how well students are known and how often they get to do what they do best”. The poll also reported that student enthusiasm for school peaks in Year 5.

“In Year 5, 74 per cent of kids [report being] engaged [with school]. Number one take-away from today is do not ever let your children leave Year 5, because they will slowly become less engaged with school,” quipped Peggy Jasperson, a former Gallup consultant and now director of the Positive Education Group, as she presented the results to an audience of educators. “What happens in Year 10? Kids also get to have an opportunity to choose subjects, right? Well, we do see a little bit of an increase into years 11 and 12, but not a lot.”

Illustration: Gallup

Respondents engagement with school from year 5 to 12. Illustration: Gallup

Furthermore, one-third of students said they are struggling in terms of wellbeing. As per the poll, this means “students lack positive thoughts and experiences; they tend to worry about meeting the daily demands of life”. Jasperson also said those kids who intend to go to university often report higher levels of hope, engagement and wellbeing.

“We still need to be thinking about how we look at all students and make this a comprehensive way to improve hope, engagement and wellbeing for everyone, not just those we know are naturally inclined to go to university,” she said.

Gallup is a US-based research company famous for its public opinion polls. The Gallup Student Poll originally began in the US. It came to Australia in 2009.

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