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Why schools cannot ignore the self-esteem of their pupils

Self-esteem is the value placed on a person, by that person. It can also be described as self-worth - the terms are identical in meaning.

Whilst working with young homeless people I was seeking to motivate a young lady to think about using night classes or college to develop an already well-developed natural artistic talent.

My efforts stalled when she asked me, "Why should I make an effort - when I don't think I am worth making an effort for?"

Low self-esteem locked that young lady into a pattern of self-destructive behaviours that removed any possibility of her achieving her true potential.

It is the same for every pupil who enters school with a low self-esteem.

Researched behaviours associated with low self-esteem include being anti-school, more likely to bully, more stressed, increased drugs/alcohol use, poor communication skills, more likely to truant, more likely to experience depression, self-harm, manifest violence, be a school refuser, be in trouble with the Police, lack respect for others, manifest anti-social behaviour and to be excluded from school.

Schools put enormous amounts of time, effort and money into initiatives to encourage affected young people to put these behaviours behind them, yet rarely do they have any real, long-lasting success as a result of those initiatives. The usual approach is for schools to seek to motivate such pupils without first creating a mindset within the young person that says, "I am worth making an effort for."

A school that understands self-esteem and is equipped with strategies to help pupils raise their self-esteem will see remarkable behaviour changes in their most challenging pupils, as well as those who - whilst not particularly behaviourally challenging - are known to be seriously under-achieving.

SEED training and resources impart that understanding and equips schools with the strategies to get results that will bring improved attendance, reduced peer-on-peer/peer-on-staff conflicts, enable greater accessing of lessons, better social integration, less self-destructive behaviours, reduced exclusions and, through all that, reduced stress levels of staff and increased professional satisfaction.

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