British teenagers are some of the most MISERABLE in the world

Teenagers in UK schools are significantly less satisfied with their lives than their peers in classrooms around the world, a survey of 15-year-olds has suggested.

Little over one-half (52.5%) of students polled in the UK gave their life satisfaction level a score of seven or higher out of 10, according to data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Some 3.6% of UK students polled gave their life satisfaction a score of 0 – representing ‘not at all satisfied’ – the lowest of any OECD country except for Turkey (8.2%). 

The UK’s score is significantly below the likes of Colombia, Estonia and the US, nations that recorded scores of 72.9%, 69.8% and 60.7%, respectively. 

Students in the UK are significantly less satisfied with their lives than their peers in classrooms around the world, and are also continuing to lag behind their peers from tiny European countries such as Estonia and Finland when it comes to maths, reading and science (file photo)

Students in the UK are significantly less satisfied with their lives than their peers in classrooms around the world, and are also continuing to lag behind their peers from tiny European countries such as Estonia and Finland when it comes to maths, reading and science (file photo)

Students in the UK are significantly less satisfied with their lives than their peers in classrooms around the world, and are also continuing to lag behind their peers from tiny European countries such as Estonia and Finland when it comes to maths, reading and science (file photo)

JUST ONE IN 10 TEENAGERS ‘ABLE TO SEPARATE FACT FROM OPINION’ 

Only about one in 10 students is able to distinguish between fact and opinion, the triennial study of 15-year-olds has suggested.

Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found 11.5% of students in the UK achieved level five or six in the Programme for International Student Assessment, meaning they were able to establish the distinctions between fact and opinion.

The figure reaching at least level five across OECD countries was 8.7%, meaning the UK was above average.

Only in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang), Canada, Estonia, Finland, Singapore and the United States did more than one in seven students demonstrate this level of reading proficiency.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘The finding that globally fewer than one in 10 students were able to distinguish between fact and opinion is extremely worrying in an era of fake news.

‘As the OECD points out, reading is no longer mainly about extracting information – it is about constructing knowledge, thinking critically and making well-founded judgments.

‘We need to ensure that our education system focuses on developing these skills in our young people, not simply on cramming them with facts.’

Andreas Schleicher, OECD education and skills director, said schools ‘face more competition’, with digital technology and devices vying for students’ attention.  

Just over one-in-three students from the UK (35.1%) described themselves as ‘always happy’, below the OECD average of 41.0%.

And 8.7% said they always felt sad, above the OECD average of 6.5%, but lower than the likes of the US (11.0%) and Japan (11.3%).

The data, based on responses from nearly 14,000 UK students across more than 500 schools, found more than one-quarter (27%) reported being bullied at least a few times a month.

This compared with the 22.7 average across the 36 OECD countries with relevant data, putting the UK seventh in the table of highest percentage of bullied students. 

Latvia had the highest rate, with 35.5%.

Nearly one in five students in the UK (18.8%) confessed to skipping school at some point in the fortnight leading up to the survey, lower than the OECD average of 21.3%.

Italy had the highest rate of truants (56.8%), while Japan (2.1%) had the lowest.

The study also found that students from immigrant backgrounds in the UK do not perform as well at reading tasks compared with their peers.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report by the OECD found 15-year-olds from an immigrant background – defined as those whose mother or father were born in a country other than where the student sat the PISA test – scored an average of 20 points lower than those whose parents were from the UK.

The study found immigrants now account for one in five students (20%) in the UK, up from just over one in 10 (11%) a decade ago.

The report found immigrant students performed better in the UK than across other OECD countries more generally – with 21% of immigrant students scoring in the top quarter of reading performance in the UK, compared with 17% elsewhere.

Students in the UK are also continuing to lag behind their peers from tiny European countries such as Estonia and Finland when it comes to maths, reading and science.

This graph shows students' well-being and satisfaction, compared to their counterparts across the world

This graph shows students' well-being and satisfaction, compared to their counterparts across the world

This graph shows students’ well-being and satisfaction, compared to their counterparts across the world 

This shows well-being among disadvantaged students across the world, from highest to lowest

This shows well-being among disadvantaged students across the world, from highest to lowest

This shows well-being among disadvantaged students across the world, from highest to lowest 

Asian nations, including Singapore and Hong Kong, continue to dominate the latest triennial Pisa report.

And while the UK’s ranking across the three disciplines has improved on the score from three years ago, the country still languishes outside the top 10 – with little chance of breaking into the upper echelons any time soon, experts predict.

The UK’s score in science – based on the results of two-hour tests, featuring 13,818 students from 538 schools across the country – continued a downward trend which has seen the UK plummet from 515 points in 2006 to 505 points in 2018, Tuesday’s report showed.

But there were positive in maths and reading, with the points score rising in the last three years from 492 to 502, and from 498 to 504, respectively.

By comparison, the four areas of China that participated in the study – Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (BSJZ) – scored highest across all three subjects, with a total of 591 for maths, 555 for reading, and 590 for science.

Estonia and Finland ranked fifth and sixth for reading, and fourth and sixth for science. 

Andreas Schleicher, OECD education and skills director, said it would take ‘a long time’ for the UK to get close enough to break into the top-five for maths, reading and science.’

The data also showed girls outperformed boys in maths and reading, but performed similarly in science. 

HOW BRITISH SCHOOLS COMPARE WITH OTHER COUNTRIES 

More than 600,000 students in 79 countries and regions took part in last year’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Here are the top five performing countries for reading, maths and science:

READING

1. Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang (China)

2. Singapore

3. Macao (China)

4. Hong Kong (China)

5. Estonia

6. Canada 

MATHS

1. Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang (China)

2. Singapore

3. Macao (China)

4. Hong Kong (China)

5. Chinese Taipei

6. Japan 

SCIENCE

1. Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang (China)

2. Singapore

3. Macao (China)

4. Estonia

5. Japan

6. Finland 

OVERALL

* The highest performer was the grouped provinces of Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang in China.

* The highest performing country was Singapore. 

(Source: PISA report)

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