What Do Students Think About School? A report for the National Commission on Education

Wendy Keys, Cres Fernandes

01 January 1993

This report for the National Commission on Education gives valuable insights into students' attitudes and motivation to learning in the first and third year of secondary school. It presents the views of young people themselves about their experiences in school today, and is part of an investigation of the capacity of our education service to meet the demands it will face over the next 25 years.

The great majority of secondary school students like school, have supportive parents and want to do well in their exams. There is cause for concern, however, both professional and public, about the number of students who find school an alienating experience. Whereas nine per cent indicated that they were bored in all or most lessons, as many as 55 per cent said they were bored in some lessons. Many students said their teachers did not often praise them for good work and about 40 per cent of students revealed that they had not discussed their work individually with their teachers during the year. Some nine per cent of the first year and 23 per cent of the third year said they had played truant, usually for a lesson or a day here and there. A substantial minority of students believed they had been the targets of bullying.

This report - sometimes disturbing, sometimes encouraging, yields perceptions upon which policy recommendations could be based. Its significance is that it gives a picture of secondary school life, good points and bad, from the students' perspective, and a sense of the worth they place on their education.

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