The existence of school‐related stress in two grammar schools in Northern Ireland: contributing factors and moderation

Lindsey Finch, Bernadette McCreight, Gerry McAleavy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent educational policies have altered scholastic experience. It is the contention of the authors that contemporary school experience may therefore, for some individuals, be distressing. This study is concerned with the identification of stress-related behaviours of sixth-form pupils within female single-sex, selective, scholastic environments. The sample consisted of 420 girls drawn from two comparable schools. The study was conducted using qualitative and quantitative methods. Administration of a questionnaire at three intervals within one academic year permitted sustained reflection upon responses. The qualitative questionnaire findings permitted generation of themes, later investigated through focus groups. SPSS was used to analyse responses to scaled questions. The keeping of a research diary served to illuminate meaning and to capture anecdotal evidence, which is so easily lost within a busy school environment. In addition, the opinions of a number ofrelevant professionals were sought. The study concluded that some members of the sample population encounter demands emanating not only from assessment incidents, but also from arange of other sources inherent to the system of sufficient magnitude, duration and intensity to engender school-related stress. Within the study the ways in which school-related stress may present are identified; these include, for example, physical effects, subjective effects, effects upon work and effects upon relationships. An evaluation of current relevant support mechanisms is offered and recommendations for change are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
JournalPastoral Care in Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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