The Good Childhood Report 2022: key findings and learning points

The Good Childhood Report 22 blog post image

Each year The Children’s Society publishes ‘The Good Childhood Report’, which brings together a number of research projects in order to summarise the well-being of children aged 10-17. Now into its tenth year, this report has now surveyed over 44,000 young people and their families during the last decade, in the absence of an annual, national reporting strategy from the government. You can read our summary of the 2021 report here.

This year, the report combined data from The Children’s Society household surveys, along with data from the UK Longitudinal Household Survey (known as ‘Understanding Society’). It focused on concerns following the coronavirus pandemic, and current issues regarding the cost of living crisis in the UK.

Key findings from The Good Childhood Report 2022
  • Feeling listened to at school is strongly associated with children’s happiness at school
  • More children in 2022 were unhappy with school than any other aspect of life they were asked about (14.2% had low scores). Among those in full-time education, higher proportions of girls, those in key stages 3 and 4 (i.e. secondary education), and children in families they thought were not well off were unhappy
  • Happiness with school and schoolwork declined significantly with age and was significantly lower among children in lower income households
  • More children were unhappy with their appearance than with the other five aspects of life they were asked about (life as a whole, family, friends, school and schoolwork)
  • 11% of children indicated that they had not coped well with changes to daily life through the pandemic, which shows that there is still need for ongoing support and monitoring
  • 53% of parents and carers surveyed thought that the pandemic had negatively impacted their children
  • 85% of parents and carers are concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on their family in the next 12 months

This report highlights the urgent need for the Government to address wider issues surrounding social circumstances which influence our well-being. These social circumstances are the conditions in which we are born, raised, live, work and grow old, and are hugely significant in terms of how we experience life. The report notes that ‘it is urgent that the Government sets a renewed focus on place-based prevention and early intervention to promote positive well-being for children’ (The Children’s Society, 2022b: 18). This will be particularly important over the next 12 months and beyond, as we navigate our way through the cost of living crisis. 

Given that ‘educational attainment is strongly linked with health behaviours and outcomes’ (Gov.uk, 2017), it is an area which the Government needs to pay particular attention to to avoid prolonging the situation into an even longer-term crisis. But The Good Childhood Report also notes that another recent report from The Children’s Society, Stopping the Spiral (2022) ‘shows a 50% decline in local authority spending on early intervention children’s services since 2010-11, with 80% of resources now going to late intervention services’. This is too late, and we need to be looking at how we can revolutionise mental health in schools and colleges so that it is no longer just something reactive when things go wrong. We owe it to our young people, teachers and everyone in the educational community.

What can I take from this as a designated Senior Lead of Mental Health or School Mental Health Specialist?

Do not underestimate the power of talking to your students. The best people to tell us what young people need are young people themselves, so make sure that their voices are heard.

Bear in mind that although we have moved out of restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic, the effects are still being felt by a significant number of students.

Let's work together to support good mental health and wellbeing in both children and young people

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References and further reading

Gov.uk (2017), ‘Chapter 6: social determinants of health’, [Online], available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-profile-for-england/chapter-6-social-determinants-of-health, accessed 10th October 2022.

The Children’s Society, (2022) ‘The Good Childhood Report 2022’, [Online], available from: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/information/professionals/resources/good-childhood-report-2022, accessed 10th October 2022.

The Children’s Society (2022b) ‘The Good Childhood Report 2022: Summary and recommendations’, [Online], available from: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2022-09/GCR-2022-Summary-Report.pdf

The Children’s Society (2022c) ‘Stopping the Spiral’, [Online], available from: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2022-07/Stopping_the_spiral_Childrens_Services_Funding_Alliance.pdf, accessed 10th October 2022.