You’d be well aware that late last year, the OECD published  the latest of their PISA tables. 


But did you know that as this article shows, the tests are not all about numeracy and literacy?


As part of the tests, students were asked to agree or disagree with a whole range of statements. One of which was:


“I feel happy at school.”


When I saw the responses, I was immediately conscious of the fact that Australia rates fairly low on the “happiness” score.

Sure we can get into a debate about the true meaning of happiness or whether you feel school should be “fun” or not, but  I’m more interested in exploring why it is that so many kids would say they are  not  happy at school and what the potential knock-on effects of this might be.


But what do we make of the fact that the least happy students happen come from countries that top the academic tables – South Korea, Finland, Estonia & Poland?


Great test scores do not a happy child make. Some may argue that a schools responsibility is to raise achievement first and foremost.


But what if, instead of the incessant focus on “raising achievement”, we focused on enhancing engagement and wellbeing first and foremost in schools, so that kids feel happier about being there and  as a result  achievement would rise as a by product.


As it appears the current trend seems to focus on achievement  at the expense  of engagement & wellbeing of students  and teachers.


Author: Dan Haesler is a teacher, consultant and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. His website is: and he tweets at @danhaesler