The idea that Australia’s schools are a haven for “school children in distress” may be an old one, but the truth is the opposite.
A new study by researchers at the University of Sydney and the University at Albany has found that the school bell, when used as part of a routine, is often used in Australia for the purpose of improving attendance and reducing stress.
In the paper, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the researchers compared how Australian schools are responding to the use of school bell tones in different schools, and found that when a school is doing a bell-to-school routine, attendance and school stress are significantly lower than when a different school does a bell to school routine.
“This suggests that the bell-off school routine is an effective and effective way to address some of the underlying problems with Australian schools,” said lead researcher Dr Julie Koster.
“We found that using the bell toschool routine may be a viable intervention for schools to address underlying health and wellbeing issues that are related to their own poor health, particularly for children who are disproportionately likely to be in poverty, under-achieving, and/or suffering from mental health problems.”
In other words, the bell may help reduce stress in a school setting, but it may not help a student’s well-being.
The researchers tested their hypothesis by looking at data from schools across the country, and using a variety of different data sets to examine the impact of bell-out on attendance.
“Our results indicate that, for all schools in Australia, the use and impact of the bell as part a school bell-tone routine is largely benign and relatively short-lived,” the researchers wrote.
“The bell-on school routine has been linked to reduced anxiety and depression, reduced stress and depressive symptoms, reduced anxiety related to stress, and reduced absenteeism and absenteeism related to illness.”
The research was supported by the Australian Research Council’s National Research Council.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) supports the use, research and dissemination of evidence-based information about school health and well-health.