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One in five Year 4 students bullied at least once a week: TIMSS

 

 

A fifth of Australian Year 4 students report being bullied at least once a week, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement study showed that students who were bullied weekly performed worse in Year 4 mathematics and science than those who were bullied only monthly or who had never been bullied.

The trends also applied to one-tenth of Year 8 students who reported being bullied at least once a week.

The statistics were gathered from a sample of 16,000 Australian students from 572 schools.

A summary published by the Victorian Department of Education notes that educational research literature shows students who are bullied have lower academic outcomes, attend school less frequently, and are less likely to finish school.

TIMSS, and the Australian-specific Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, found a 15-year-old achievement gap exists between rich and poor students.

The PISA results identified that generally students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are educationally three years behind their wealthier counterparts.

The Australian Council for Educational Research’s Dr Sue Thomson, who analysed both reports, told Education Review bullying was a problem for 35 per cent of students in poorer schools but only reportedly impacted 5 per cent of those in wealthier schools.

“I think bullying’s always a difficult area to look at,” Dr Thomson said.

“It has to be unpacked very carefully because it’s a matter of whether the school doesn’t have the resources to deal with it, whether there are issues at home that students are trying to deal with, and the way that they deal with that is by exhibiting antisocial behaviours, which are predominantly more among lower socioeconomic students.”

Thomson said TIMSS reports, which have been published every four years from 1995, showed that Australia consistently has high rates of bullying. However, she said this could be because more students recognise bullying for what it is and report it.

“TIMSS reports have always shown that Australian students report more intimidation and bullying than almost any other country,” Dr Thomson said.

“We flagged it as an issue for many years. I don’t know whether it’s because our students are bullied more or whether they’re more aware of what bullying behaviours are and more likely to report them, than in other countries.”

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham told Education Review, “The research demonstrates that more money spent within a school doesn’t automatically buy you better discipline, engagement or ambition.

“While governments are investing ever more in addressing disadvantage we need communities and families to focus on how we simultaneously change behaviour and attitudes. Turning these results around cannot rest solely on the shoulders of teachers or principals.

“Ill-discipline or a bad attitude doesn’t only hurt the outcomes of the student who brings such an approach to school but can infect entire classrooms of students.

“While well-resourced schools with highly capable and motivated teachers are central to success, we equally need policies and parents that empower teachers to expect high standards and adopt a zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour.”