Sense of belonging

Sense of belonging is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What Works Best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Sense of belonging refers to students’ feelings of being accepted and valued by their peers and by others at school. It reflects the extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others at school.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about how they get along with others at school. The results are reported as the percentage of students with a positive sense of belonging.

Why is it important?

Students’ sense of belonging at school is related to their academic achievement and well-being. Sense of belonging has a strong influence on students’ academic motivation and thus is related to their academic outcomes. Students who have a strong sense of belonging also tend to be happier, have greater interest in school activities, and are more confident. When students do not feel they belong at school they tend to reject school values, withdraw from school activities, and become alienated or disaffected.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Wellbeing Wellbeing

Evidence base

Becker, B. E., & Luthar, S. S. (2002). Social-emotional factors affecting achievement outcomes among disadvantaged students: Closing the achievement gap. Educational Psychologist, 37(4), 197-214.

Finn, J. D. (1989). Withdrawing from school. Review of Educational Research, 59, 117-142.

Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of relatedness as a factor in children’s academic engagement and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 148-162.

Goodenow, C. (1993a). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30, 70-90.

Goodenow, C. (1993b). Classroom belonging among early adolescent students: Relationships to motivation and achievement. Journal of Early Adolescence, 13, 21-43.

Osterman, K. F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70, 323-367.

Willms, J. D. (2003). Student engagement at school: A sense of belonging and participation. Paris: OECD Publishing.

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Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.

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