School work 'not tough enough'
Many children could be finding their school work is not challenging enough, research suggests.
A study concludes a fifth of youngsters strongly believe that their lessons are not too difficult, and there is some evidence that bright children are more likely to feel they are not being stretched.
The study, conducted by the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE), is based on a survey of more than 8,000 primary and secondary school pupils.
The children were asked about their experiences of school and the national curriculum. While children were not asked directly if they found their lessons too easy, they were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement "lessons are often too difficult for me".
The findings for 2010 show that a fifth (20%) of primary school pupils aged between eight and 11, and 16% of secondary-age pupils (11-18) strongly disagreed that their lessons were too difficult.
The researchers concluded: "This may suggest that they found lessons too easy, although it could just mean they found lessons appropriately difficult."
Overall, over half of primary-age pupils (52%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that lessons were too difficult for them, along with 57% of secondary school pupils, and around 15% of primary school pupils and a similar proportion at secondary school agreed that they often found lessons too difficult.
The study, due to be presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) annual conference this week, says: "Those reporting higher attainment were less likely to say that they found lessons too difficult."
Among secondary school pupils, maths was seen as the hardest subject, but also rated the most useful, after PE, for life outside school. Religious education was seen as the least useful and science the most practical subject.
Professor Philippa Cordingley, director of the project, said: "These findings seem to us to support the inference that even though the majority of learners report a reasonable level of difficulty, a small but significant proportion of learners are not being challenged sufficiently, and that, in the primary phase particularly, this is more true of higher achieving learners."