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 journalArticle

Abstract

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.
LanguageEnglish
Pages311-329
JournalPastoral Care in Education
Volume28
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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@article{6827cefe5d9540149cfbb4daa492b329,
title = "The existence of school‐related stress in two grammar schools in Northern Ireland: contributing factors and moderation",
abstract = "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.",
author = "Lindsey Finch and Bernadette McCreight and Gerry McAleavy",
note = "Reference text: Adkins, K. K. & Parker, W. (1996) Perfectionism and suicidal preoccupation, Journal of Personality, 64(2), 529–540. Brown, E. J., Heimberg, R. J., Frost, R. O., Makris, G. S., Juster, H. R. & Leung, A. W. (1999) Relationship of perfectionism to affect, expectations, attributions and performance in the classroom, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 18(1), 98–120. de Anda, D., Bradley, M., Collada, C., Dunn, L., Kubota, J., Hollister, V., Miltenberger, J., Pulley, J., Susskind, A., Thompson, L. A. & Wadsworth, T. (1997) A study of stress, stressors, and coping strategies among middle school adolescents, Social Work in Education, 19(2), 87–98. Denscombe, M. (2000) Social conditions for stress: young people’s experience of doing GCSEs, British Educational Research Journal, 26(3), 359–373. Erikson, E. H. (1968) Youth and crisis (London, Faber and Faber). Fallin, K., Wallinga, C. & Coleman, M. (2001) Helping children cope with stress in the classroom setting, Childhood Education, 18(1), 1–7. Fisher, S. (1994) Stress in academic life: the mental assembly line (Buckingham, The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press). Franks, B. D. (1994) What is stress?, Quest, 46, 1–7. Gallagher, M. & Millar, R. (1996) A survey of adolescent worry in Northern Ireland, Pastoral Care, 14(2), 26–32. Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L. (1999) The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research (New York, Aldine de Gruyter). Goffman, E. (1959) The presentation of self in everyday life (London, Penguin Books). Hamilton, T. K. & Schweitzer, R. D. (2000) The cost of being perfect: perfectionism and suicide ideation in university students, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34(5), 829–835. Kiselica, M. S., Baker, S. B., Thomas, R. N. & Reedy, S. (1994) Effects of stress inoculation training on anxiety, stress and academic performance among adolescents, Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41(3), 335–342. Laessle, R. G., Kittl, S., Fichter, M. M. & Pirke, K. M. (2006) Cognitive correlates of depression in patients with eating disorders, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 7, 681–686. Laing, R. D. (1959) The divided self (London, Penguin Books). Laing, R. D., Phillips, H. & Lee, A. R. (1966) Interpersonal perception (London, Tavistock). Lewis, R. & Frydenberg, E. (2002) Concomitants of failure to cope: what we should teach adolescents about coping, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 419–429. Office for National Statistics (2005, August) News release (London, National Statistics). Available online from: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/cmd0805.pdf (accessed September 2009). Olah, A. (1995) Coping strategies among adolescents: a cross cultural study, Journal of Adolescence,18, 491–512. Sanders, C. E., Field, T. M., Diego, M. & Kaplan, M. (2000) Moderate involvement in sports is related to lower depression levels among adolescents, Adolescence, 35(140), 793–797. Selye, H. (1974) Stress without distress (London, Hodder and Stoughton). Sherry, S. B., Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., Lee-Baggley, D. L. & Hall, P. A. (2007) Trait perfectionism and perfectionistic self-presentation in personality pathology, Personality and Individual Differences, 42(3), 477–490. United Nations (1990) Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: conventions on the rights of the child. Available online from: http://ww.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm#part1 Weinreich, P. (2003) Part 1: theory in practice, in: P. Weinreich & W. Saunderson (Eds) Analysing identity: cross-cultural, societal and clinical contexts (London, Routledge), 7–76.",
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The existence of school‐related stress in two grammar schools in Northern Ireland: contributing factors and moderation. / Finch, Lindsey; McCreight, Bernadette; McAleavy, Gerry.

In: Pastoral Care in Education, Vol. 28, No. 4, 12.2010, p. 311-329.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Finch, Lindsey

AU - McCreight, Bernadette

AU - McAleavy, Gerry

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AB - 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.

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