It’s always dangerous to hang anything on a survey, but let’s accept for a moment the plausible idea that parents, when asked about their worries for children entering school, place academic progress above their happiness. Is this even a bad thing? If the current cohort were content by historical standards, maybe it wouldn’t be a mistake, but well being indicators are worsening, especially among girls at secondary school age, while, conversely, academic results improve. So are parents wrong to worry more about performance than happiness? On average, yes, although clearly it’s hard to generalise.
It’s not just that happiness is a problem right now. Recent work from LSE shows that, as a predictor of life satisfaction in adulthood, emotional well-being is far more important than academic success. So being concerned with children’s mental health isn’t cuddly, fluffy thinking, it’s hard nosed, evidence based policy. The current mania for performance and discipline in schools has obscured their role in producing functional, well adjusted citizens, and we all have a duty to resist it in our own way.