Is school participation good for children? Associations with health and wellbeing
de Róiste, Aingeal
Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse
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de Róiste, Aingeal, Kelly, Colette, Molcho, Michal, Gavin, Aoife, & Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse. (2012). Is school participation good for children? Associations with health and wellbeing. Health Education, 112(2), 88-104. doi:10.1108/09654281211203394
Purpose There is increasing recognition of children's abilities to speak for themselves. School democracy, as demonstrated by genuine participation, has the potential to benefit both teachers and students; leading to better relationships and improved learning experiences. The aim of this study is to investigate whether participation in schools in Ireland is linked with perceived academic performance, liking school and positive health perceptions. Design/methodology/approach Data were collected via self‐completion questionnaires from a stratified random sample of 10,334 students aged 10‐17 years in Irish schools. The questions included encouragement to express their views in class, participation in the organisation of school events; taking part in making school rules; liking school, perceived academic performance, self‐rated health, life satisfaction and self‐reported happiness. Associations between school participation and other measures were expressed by odds ratios from logistic regression models, conducted separately for girls and boys. Findings More than 63 per cent of participating students reported that they were encouraged to express their views in class, 58 per cent that they were involved in organising school events and 22 per cent that they had been involved in making school rules. All forms of participation were lower among older students. Participation in school was significantly associated with liking school and higher perceived academic performance, better self‐rated health, higher life satisfaction and greater reported happiness. Research limitations/implications These data are all cross‐sectional and relationships cannot imply causality. Practical implications These findings underscore the relevance of school participation for students in Ireland. Originality/value The paper illustrates that, in general, positive relationships between school participation and health and wellbeing are demonstrated among Irish children.