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Many more 15-year-olds feel they don't fit in at school

Published onsdag 19 april 2017 kl 16.39
Expert: Work to prevent bullying has not been as prioritised as it should have been.
(3:12 min)
A young girl sitting by herself in a classroom.
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One out of six students reported being bullied at school. Credit: Janerik Henriksson / TT

The number of 15-year-olds who feel that they don't fit in at school in Sweden has increased dramatically since 2003, according to a PISA study published on Wednesday.

In 2003, approximately one in twenty 15-year-olds said that they felt lonely at school, and the same number said they felt they did not fit in. In 2015, about one in five said the same.

This development is more or less the consistent over all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, but in Sweden there is one area where things have deteriorated more obviously.

"Students sense of belonging in school has decreased in all OECD-countries, but the decrease in Sweden is more profound than in other countries," said Eva Lundgren, in charge of the study at the Swedish National Agency for Education.

The biggest drop in sense of belonging has happened after 2012. It coincides in time with what has become known as "the PISA-shock" here in Sweden. "PISA-shock" came when the survey based on that year showed that Swedish pupils' results in math, science, and reading plummeted, unparalleled to anywhere else in the OECD. The results have improved in the subsequent PISA study, from 2015, but could it be that an increased focus on results has negatively affected the students' well-being?

"What we know is that the schools' work to make education inclusive and preventing bullying has not been as prioritised as it should have been. The focus has mostly been in increasing the students (academic) skills," said Eva Lundgren.

Another possible contributing factor, says Eva Lundgren, is that it has become more common to talk about issues of well-being among young people in Sweden.

The findings are part of a preliminary Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey that was conducted in 2015. This was the first time that the survey asked the pupils about bullying.

The PISA surveys, carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), test students' performance and well-being in school from 80 countries around the world.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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