Young people's values survey

Young People’s Values: a project among year 9 and year 10 pupils


Survey History

"I enjoyed doing this survey. It really made me think"
"Pleasure. Not many people really want to hear what we have to say"
"This has helped me know what I believe"

Here are just three of the many positive comments from the 33,982 pupils across England and Wales who took part in the first Religion and Values Survey. In total, 164 schools took part in the survey by inviting all their year nine and year ten classes to complete a detailed questionnaire.

The questionnaire was simple for teachers to administer and straight-forward for pupils to complete. It had been professionally designed so that pupils were able to register their views by ticking boxes or by circling categories.

That survey has generated a great deal of valuable information useful to schools, parents, policy-makers and all those concerned with the welfare of young people. The most recent book to emerge from the survey, Urban Hope and Spiritual Health by Leslie J Francis, was published in February 2006.


Mapping Trends

The first Religion and Values Survey was conducted at the end of the 1990s and every secondary school in Wales and England was invited to take part. The latest survey contained all the core areas covered by the original study and other new areas were added. Such areas included the following themes, among others:

Personal well-being

Personal well-being is concerned with how young people feel about themselves. How much do they value themselves as individuals? To what extent do they feel that their life has a sense of purpose? Do they feel life is really worth living? On the other hand, how much are they aware of the darker side of life? How many of them suffer from feelings of depression? How many have been driven to entertain suicidal thoughts?


The questions on worries bring together issues which are known to trouble some young people. How many of these are worried about their relationships, about their attractiveness to the opposite sex, or about their sex lives? To what extent are they worried about their body shape, about putting on weight, or about getting AIDS/HIV?


This section is concerned with school-related values. How happy are the pupils at school? How much do they worry about their school work, about school exams, or about being bullied at school?


This section is concerned with the value young people place on their leisure. How satisfied are they with their leisure time? How many wish for more things to do with their leisure or feel that they just hang about with their friends doing nothing in particular? How do they perceive their parents’ attitudes toward what they do with their leisure time?

Religious Beliefs

This section is concerned with the value that young people put on religion. What proportion of young people believe in God? How many believe in life after death, in heaven, in hell, or in reincarnation? What do they think about the place of Christianity and of the other great world faiths in today’s society?

Science and Religion

What are young people making of the debate between science and religion? To what extent is there perceived to be a tension between the truth claims made by science and the truth claims made by religion? How many young people take an uncritical view of science?

Non-traditional Beliefs

What do young people today make of the wide range of beliefs prevalent in society around them? How many of them believe in their horoscopes, for example? How many believe that tarot cards or fortune-tellers can tell the future? Do some young people really believe in vampires?


This section is concerned with the political values of young people. Do young people have confidence in the main political parties? How many of them have already grown sceptical about the whole political process and think that it does not really matter which political party is in power?

Global Fears

This section assesses how young people feel about threats that are procured in today’s world. How many of them are concerned about terrorism, about the risks of biological and chemical warfare, or about the risk of nuclear activity? Do they feel that their views really matter or that they are powerless to help solve the world’s problems?

Environmental Issues

How concerned are young people today about environmental issues? Are they concerned about the risk of pollution to the environment? Do they make an effort to conserve the world’s energy resources or to recycle materials? Are they concerned about animals and plants becoming extinct?


This section takes a wide ranging look at how young people regard caffeine, tobacco and alcohol before moving on to explaining their attitudes towards solvents, ecstasy, speed and other drugs.

Sexual Morality

This section examines attitudes towards marriage, homosexuality, contraception, divorce, abortion, and pornography. What do young people today think about such issues?


Benefits for the School

As well as helping us map the views of young people in Wales, there are other real benefits for the participating schools. The survey really does capture the interest of many of the pupils and make them think about a number of important issues. Participating schools are then able to follow up the pupils’ interest in subsequent lessons.