And their dissatisfaction increased with age - starting from a low point of only 34% of 10- and 11-year-olds agreeing that they liked to go to school - falling to a disastrous 18% who would still agree that school was a place they wanted to be aged 12 and 13.
38% of children in England reported that they were bullied each month. English girls were bottom of the international rankings in terms of happiness with their body confidence, appearance and self-esteem.
In a recent study by the NUT, teachers expressed severe concerns about the mental health of young people, and in particular, of girls.
An experienced secondary school teacher wrote: "I have never known stress related conditions to be so prevalent in secondary education.
"Self harming is rife in KS4. Last year... one was hospitalised for three months in a psychiatric ward following a suicide attempt, another very nearly starved herself to death and again was institutionalised for five months in a specialist eating disorder unit."
Teachers do their best to support and protect children and young people from the pressures of schools which are becoming unhealthily competitive. External accountability pressures force schools to focus on exam passes. Children and young people become commodities of the education system - their worth measured in their ability to pass timed, linear exams in a narrow range of academic subjects.
Teachers worry that they lose sight of the individual worth of their pupils, that they have less time to talk to them because of the pounding pressures of the school day (and evening, into the night working to mark books, fill in progress charts and complete all the admin that cannot be shoe horned in to excessive working hours).
The government's imposition of timed linear exams can only make the effect of these pressures worse. At the same time the cuts to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMS) leave many troubled and needy young people without the help they so desperately need.
All this might be justified if it prepared young people for working lives in the 21st century - but it does not. John Cridland, Director General of the CBI has called for the abolition of GCSEs and the introduction of personalised learning plans for each pupil. Like teachers, the CBI is worried that schools are becoming exam factories - where exams determine what is taught and how, and where the broader skills needed for successful working lives - are being excised.
How can it be that speaking and listening is no longer part of the core assessment for English when the ability to communicate well is an essential 21st century skill?
Recently published research by Professor Jannette Elwood of Queens University Belfast with nearly 250 students from across England found that examinations structured through modules (and re-sits) allow for any mistakes to be made better and take the stress off having to do everything in one sitting.
Students thought that it was only fair to have a mixture of examinations and coursework because: “we don’t all like the same things”.
Professor Elwood found, also that students felt insulted at the annual circus of debates in the media around falling exam standards, which they saw as degrading their own achievements. They were also concerned that changes to examinations were being introduced “live”, rather than being piloted in advance, and felt their future successes might be “messed up” as a result. All of these changes could have considerable impact on their final grades and they argue this is too high a price to pay.
We need to listen more carefully to young people and to provide an education system which inculcates a life long joy of learning, rather than an exam treadmill. The present exam system is unsustainable, and will become more so. Things will change eventually - but enormous damage will have been done in the meantime.