University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Adolescence: rhetoric, representations, realities discussion group > Adolescence: rhetoric, representations, realities discussion (3)

Adolescence: rhetoric, representations, realities discussion (3)

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How does school experience impact on adolescent wellbeing?

In this seminar Colleen McLaughlin uses a paper entitled Relational Matters: a review of the impact of school experience on mental health in early adolescence written by her and Barbie Clark, soon to be published in Educational and Child Psychology, 27,(1), to explore the question above. The paper arises from a systematic review of research undertaken by colleagues at the Faculty of Education for the Changing Adolescence Programme (previously known as the Adolescent Mental Health Initiative). This is a specific programme of research on time trends in adolescent mental health, set up by the Nuffield Foundation in 2005. The particular focus is the relationship between the school experiences of young people aged 10-14 and their mental health outcomes. The review of this area posited the notion of ‘the supportive school’ as important and one key element, the notion of school connectedness. Within that the role of relationships is identified as significant. This paper explores the part played by relationships in schools. The paper draws on a review of 133 papers published mainly in the last 15 years. Relationships between teachers and pupils and pupils’ peer relationships are identified as the key ones. The main ways in which school based relationships impact upon mental health are explored. First, in terms of the relationship to academic outcomes; second, the relationship between social support, feelings of emotional wellbeing or distress, and teacher-pupil relationships; and finally the relationship between school connectedness and mental health outcomes. The authors argue for greater attention to be paid to the interconnections between the relationships with young people and their emotional and academic wellbeing. The paper concludes with the implications for schools and teachers of these findings and an argument for an acknowledgement of the importance of the social goals of education.

This talk is part of the Adolescence: rhetoric, representations, realities discussion group series.

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