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Category: BLOG_2017

Northern Ireland 15-year-olds ‘happy with lives’

By Robbie Meredith BBC News NI Education Correspondent

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The findings are based on a survey of 540,000 students

Most 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland are happy with their lives.

That is according to an international study of students’ well-being.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that Northern Irish pupils were more satisfied with their lives than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

They had an average satisfaction score of 7.24 on a scale from nought to 10, close to the OECD average of 7.3.

The findings are based on a survey of 540,000 students in 72 participating countries and economies who also completed the OECD Pisa tests in science, mathematics and reading in 2015.

In their responses to questions about their sense of well-being, Northern Irish boys generally expressed more satisfaction with their lives than girls.

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A quarter of Northern Irish pupils reported skipping breakfast before school

Yet worries about exams and bullying remain a problem for many young people.

In Northern Ireland, about 70% of students said they were very anxious before a test, even if they were well prepared for it – well above the OECD average of 55%.

Around one in six Northern Irish pupils said they had were experienced bullying at least a few times a month.

However this was the lowest rate in the UK, with one in four students in England, for example, reporting similar levels of bullying.

Good relationships

A quarter of Northern Irish pupils also reported skipping breakfast before school.

The OECD study also suggests that heavy internet use leaves many pupils feeling lonely and less satisfied.

More positively, the study concluded that the vast majority of teenagers in Northern Ireland had good relationships with their parents and teachers.

Almost 95% reported that they spoke to their parents regularly about school and felt supported by them.

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Northern Irish pupils also tended to be driven and ambitious

This meant they were more likely to perform better academically and be happier with their lives.

Students who felt their teacher was willing to provide help and was interested in their learning were about 1.3 times more likely to feel that they belonged at school, researchers found.

Northern Irish pupils also tended to be driven and ambitious with 95% saying they aimed for top grades in all of their courses.

More 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland (45%) also expected to complete a university degree than those in England, Scotland and Wales.

However, the study suggests that extensive internet use can lead to students being less satisfied with their lives.

Life satisfaction

In the UK, almost one in four students reported using the internet outside school for more than six hours a day.

This was well above the overall OECD rate, where one in six students reporting using the internet for a similar amount of time each day.

Generally, the study reveals large variations in life satisfaction across the 72 OECD countries.

In the Netherlands, fewer than 4% of young people said they were not satisfied with their lives.

But in South Korea and Turkey, 20% reported low satisfaction scores.

In Northern Ireland, by contrast, 12.6% of pupils said they were not satisfied with their lives.

Overall, the study found girls and disadvantaged students were less likely than boys and advantaged students to report high levels of life satisfaction.

Source: BBC Northern Ireland



Financial Services Union warns jobs at risk due to political instability

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The warning comes days after First Trust Bank announced it was closing half its branches in Northern Ireland

The Financial Services Union has warned that jobs in the sector could be in jeopardy if there is continued political instability in Northern Ireland.

The warning comes days after First Trust Bank announced it was closing half its branches in Northern Ireland.

The organisation’s general secretary Larry Broderick told the BBC’s Inside Business programme that other EU countries were lobbying to take jobs out of the UK ahead of Brexit.

“Unless we in Northern Ireland get together and have a strategy, first of all to copper-fasten the jobs we have and to bring reassurance, but also it’s a very competitive environment in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“So I think work has to be done and in the absence of political stability and a direction and a plan in relation to that, we think in our sector, certainly there will be a lot of vulnerability of the jobs that are there as well.”

First Trust Bank announced on Wednesday that as many as 130 jobs will be lost with the closure of half its branches later this year.

The bank, which is owned by Dublin-based AIB, is one of the so-called “big four” banks in Northern Ireland.

Source: BBC Northern Ireland



US President Trump invited to Northern Ireland

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The executive promises a ‘warm welcome’ for the president who has divided global opinion

The former first and deputy first ministers invited US President Donald Trump to Northern Ireland when he was elected in November.

The invitation was made in a letter congratulating him on his election victory, dated 9 November 2016.

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness told Donald Trump that he could be “assured of a warm welcome”.

In November, a statement was released in which Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness congratulated the president-elect.

But that statement did not include their invitation to President Trump.

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It is not yet known whether the executive invitation to Northern Ireland will receive the presidential thumbs up.

In a joint letter released after the story appeared in The Impartial Reporter, the former first and deputy first ministers described Northern Ireland as a small region with “strong historical, economic and political ties to the United States”.

The letter says Northern Ireland has “become a magnet for American companies looking for a European base” and they tell Mr Trump: “Our relationship has proved mutually beneficial for both your great country and our small but dynamic region.”

Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness then wish Mr Trump every success in his new role and extend an invitation to visit.

Source: BBC News