Research Spotlight. State of the nation 2022: children and young people’s wellbeing

March 17, 2023

Annual trends, according to the Department for Education’s Research Report (February 2023), indicate that subjective happiness and life satisfaction for children and young people appear to have recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

However, if you delve in more deeply, there appears to be many areas that have worsened for this demographic. For example, loneliness, mental health, eating issues and the worry about struggling to pay for studying costs in the near future are all experiencing elevated levels of concern. 

According to this report, the good news story is that most secondary-age children experience positive feelings about school alongside having positive relationships with peers and school staff (The Children’s Society, 2022). It is possible that this reflects the impact of not having an educational setting during the pandemic, highlighting missed memories and bonding opportunities with only a screen to engage with. For children who were still attending school, bubbles, face masks and missing friends were the norm. Could this have instilled a sense of appreciation of the social aspects of being in an education setting for many of our young people?

An area that needs attention is in relation to mental well-being, brought to light from The Department of Education 2022 and NHS Digital 2022 research. According to these studies, those who enjoy coming to school, feel safe and as if they belong there are less likely to have a poor mental health and more likely to report greater subjective well-being. The causational link between schooling and well-being is becoming increasingly clear. Our Director, Lisa Cherry, is undertaking research at the Rees Centre within University of Oxford looking at belonging in relation to being in care and being excluded from school. “Engaging in cultivating belonging as an antidote to trauma and adversity” she explains, “understands belonging as the human need that it is and that focusing on belonging can buffer some of the experiences that children and young people endure. Ultimately, cultivating a positive sense of belonging in any setting is an investment in the adults that the children will become.” 

So, how can we provide these safe, welcoming and inclusive school environments for our children and young people? What can we do more of in order to facilitate their inner confidence, self-worth and future health? 

What we see working well in the schools that we work with at TICS, is the intentional development of:

  • Relational touchpoints throughout the day
  • Enhancing relationships with families 
  • A sharp focus on staff retention and collective care 

If education settings were to simply focus on these three areas, we would see benefits in the mental health and wellbeing of the children and young people which would impact attendance and ultimcately educational outcomes. If we feel safe, welcomed and have that sense that we belong, we will undoubetedly feel more encouraged, supported and cared for. This creates feelings of confidence, positivity and optimism, all essential ingredients for learning. Why would we want anything less for our children? Children have always been and will always be, our future!

We hope this article has been helpful and if you’re looking for any training or consultancy in your setting on anything mentioned in this article, please do contact Lyndsay, our Working Together Lead, on and she will help to support you on your journey.

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