Anna Freud supports return of innovative youth wellbeing survey #BeeWell
24th March 2023 | By: Dominic Smith
The Anna Freud Centre has supported the second annual #BeeWell survey, the UK’s most detailed snapshot of young people’s wellbeing in one region.
Findings show that young people’s wellbeing in Greater Manchester has remained stable over the past two years, though there are inequalities that need to be addressed, with girls and LGBTQ+ young people in particular reporting significantly lower levels of wellbeing.
Delivered in collaboration between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, University of Manchester, the Anna Freud Centre and the Gregson Family Foundation, #BeeWell is a programme that annually measures the wellbeing of young people and brings together various partners from across Greater Manchester who are committed to making young people’s wellbeing everybody’s business.
The Anna Freud Centre’s role is in supporting school involvement in the programme, particularly in terms of using feedback from the wellbeing surveys to improve their support for pupils’ wellbeing. Anna Freud also supports the development of the programme’s research strategy.
After two successful years of Greater Manchester leading on #BeeWell, a second programme will be launched in Hampshire, The Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) from September 2023, in a new partnership with the four local authorities.
The latest Greater Manchester #BeeWell survey heard the voices of 35,000 school pupils in Years 9 and 10, with over 180 schools taking part over two years. Headline findings developed with the #BeeWell Youth Steering Group are:
- The inequalities identified in Year 1 of the #BeeWell data have persisted. Girls are reporting significantly lower levels of wellbeing than boys, and LGBTQ+ young people have significantly lower wellbeing than their cisgender heterosexual peers. The data remains consistent when comparing two different cohorts of Year 10 pupils across the two years.
- Wellbeing scores have declined slightly as young people have moved from Year 8 into Year 9. (This is in line with wider research about how young people’s wellbeing declines as they get older.)
- As young people get older, they are less likely to feel that they get enough sleep to feel awake throughout the school day. 8% of Year 9 students report that they aren’t getting enough sleep to concentrate at school, which is around nine young people in an average class of 22. This is compared to 36% of Year 8 pupils who said they do not get enough sleep in the 2021 survey.
- There has been a decline in young people reporting that they have good places to spend free time, particularly as they get older. In 2021, 75.5% of young people in Year 8 agreed or strongly agreed that they had good places to spend free time, compared to 67.6% of those young people when they were surveyed again in Year 9 in 2022.
#BeeWell survey results have overall remained consistent over the two years of the programme, meaning that there is an increased confidence on how accurate the findings are – as over 60,000 young people have expressed their views.
Professor Jessica Deighton, Director of Applied Research and Evaluation at the Anna Freud Centre, said: “#BeeWell findings continue to highlight the key levers to positive wellbeing for young people. Most importantly, they show huge potential for evidence-informed interventions. We see this become a reality when a whole area commits to hearing from its young people through widescale survey data collection around wellbeing. If we applied the same approach nationally, it would significantly improve our understanding and our ability to prevent mental health problems.”
In response to the findings from the #BeeWell survey, the #BeeWell Coalition of Partners and Greater Manchester schools have begun to take action to respond to what young people across the city-region have said. This includes investment to support the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ young people, to encourage girls to get involved in physical activity, and the completion of a social prescribing and youth-led investment pilot in five neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester.
The expansion of the programme into Hampshire, The Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) marks the second Integrated Care System area to deliver the #BeeWell Programme, and will help to explore any differences between different parts of the country. The programme is already being kickstarted in HIPS with the process of co-designing the local survey with young people already underway in 15 pathfinder schools.
Building on experiences and learning in Greater Manchester, and national endorsements from the Fair Education Alliance and Times Education Commission, the new partnership with HIPS is the next step of #BeeWell's ambition. It will strive to ensure that wellbeing is prioritised, and measured consistently and rigorously, in schools and communities in every corner of England by 2030.
Find out more about #BeeWell, and read the full press release on this year’s #BeeWell findings which includes quotes from all partner organisations, as well as a participating school and from the #BeeWell Youth Steering Group.