PRIMARY school children are stressed and under pressure from national tests and government targets, according to the findings of a new report.
The Primary Review is the most in-depth study of primary education in 40 years.
But a Huddersfield academic who has studied the report said the initial findings, which follow interviews with children, parents, headteachers, employers, religious leaders, governors, and community representatives, are too pessimistic.
The research is based at Cambridge University and the full findings are due at the end of 2008.
Jiamei Xiao, a research student at Huddersfield University, has spent five months observing primary school children and more than 60 hours interviewing them.
She considers the verdict of the Primary Review to be too pessimistic.
“The Primary Review gives a bleak impression of childhood in our time and the potentially damaging influence on the bringing-up of a new generation.
“The danger of highlighting a concern that centres on policy evaluation from an adult perspective is that children’s life is either represented or misrepresented by adults and further misrepresented by the media.”
Jiamei, known as Meyer, said friendships and human relationships were the main focus in school for the children which she spoke with.
Peer groups and fun were the main focuses related to their school experience.
She said respect, care, love and trust were emotions which were frequently discussed, rather than celebrity culture and materialism.
Stress and being under pressure were not feelings mentioned by children during her research, rather boredom of routine and “normality.”
Meyer is in the final year of her three-year PhD research, entitled An Investigation of Children’s Experience of Everyday Schooling in an English Primary School.
The first two years were spent at Plymouth University.
Born in China, she has spent the last four years in Britain and aims to become a lecturer-researcher in the field of education when she completes her work in December.
“Children are versatile, resourceful and open to new ideas, and our hope for the future lies with them,” she said.