In terms of year 7 NAPLAN scores, we looked at how many years of numeracy kids with those more persisting emotional problems lost between grade 3 and year 7. We were astonished to find that the kids with more persisting emotional problems lost a year in learning across those four years in terms of numeracy, and they lost about six months in terms of reading,
Professor Patton says it’s the first time a study has demonstrated in a predictive way that emotional problems have a profound effect on learning. He cites loss of interest in school work, falling academic performance and fatigue as some of the tell-tale signs that a student is having emotional problems.
It's the kids who are socially isolated, lonely, don't have good friends, who are bullied and victimised, who are most likely to develop these emotional problems.
Peer relationships at school ‘become really important’ during this time, as they can determine the trajectory of a student’s future progress, both socially and academically.
The best data that we have is that around 50 per cent of all adult mental disorders begin by the age of 14 years and mostly between the ages of 7 and 14.
It probably needs to begin before grade 6. One of the things that one is wanting to do through this transition is maintain a kid's engagement with school. That's engagement with the work, but it's also engagement with the people, with the teachers, and with the peer group.
According to Professor Patton, one way to achieve this could be through the creation of an action team that forms ‘an alignment of curriculum, alignment of pedagogy, and alignment of those social and emotional contexts in a better way than we currently do’.