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Why French school pupils are among the happiest in the world

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Why French school pupils are among the happiest in the world
Photo: Racorn/Depositphotos
14:29 CEST+02:00
France is known for a rigid schooling system, but French students may be happier than their foreign counterparts, according to a new study.
French 15-year-olds ranked as the 6th most satisfied with their life among the 35 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, and 15th of the 72 OECD and partner countries, beating the US and UK. 
 
Only 7.4 percent of French pupils say they are dissatisfied with their life, compared to a 12 percent average in an OECD study of well-being among 15-year-olds among some 72 countries, this comes as the third instalment of the PISA 2015 study. 
 
French pupils scored an average of 7.63 out of 10 on the life satisfaction scale, just below Switzerland, with Mexico coming top (data was unavailable for some countries like Australia).
 
Why so many smiling students?
 
Here are a few reasons to feel relieved you're sending your child to a school in France. 
 
Less time studying (and better grades)
 
One reason more French 15-year-olds may be skipping to school is that they spend less time chained to the text books, leaving more time for extra-curricular activities.
 
French students spend less time studying than the OECD average, with 10 percent of students spending at least 60 hours a week studying in and out of school compared to the average of 13.3 percent. Comparatively, 20 percent of US students spend 60 hours a week or more studying. 
 
But surprisingly, less time on the books doesn't lower performance in France.
 
Indeed, France is among a small section of counties where students have above average life satisfaction as well as above average performance, at least when it comes to science. 
 
However previous studies have noted that French students struggle with maths. 
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
 
Less schoolwork stress
 
French pupils score below the average for motivation to achieve, which might sound like a bad thing, but they also scored below average on schoolwork related anxiety. The US and UK scored above average on both counts.  
 
Less bullying
 
Students in France are safer from bullies in the school yard, placing below average for exposure to all types of bullying.
 
Only 3 percent of pupils said they had been hit and pushed around at school at least a few times a month compared to the OECD average of 4.3 percent. 
 
But...
 
France's pupils were far from top of the class in all the areas that are thought to decrease well-being, such as low engagement in sports and internet addiction.
 
French 15-year-olds showed lower than average engagement in sports and around 80 percent said they would be very upset if their internet connection was broken - significantly higher than the OECD average of 54 percent, putting them in the top three below Taipei Chinese and Swiss students.
 
 
 
 
By Rose Trigg
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