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Exams anguish

Exams are the most stressful part of children's lives, according to the largest-ever survey of school pupils, writes David Marley.

More than half of 10 to 15-year-olds said they worried about tests, followed by 39 per cent who worry about friendships and 35 per cent about schoolwork.

The results, released today, come from an online survey of 111,000 children across England. The Tellus2 survey, conducted by Ofsted, asked children about all aspects of their lives, including bullying and drug use.

Fifty-one per cent of children said they were worried about exams. The numbers rose sharply as children got older, from 44 per cent of Year 6 to 48 per cent of Year 8 pupils and 60 per cent of children in Year 10.

The findings add to widespread criticism of the testing regime from across the education establishment.

An overwhelming 79 per cent of children said they wanted lessons to be more interesting. This backs up the complaint that the narrow focus of tests creates a limited curriculum.

Christine Gilbert, chief inspector of schools, said: "It is clear that more needs to be done to address young people's concerns ... about what would help them learn better."

Forty per cent of pupils wanted more help from teachers and the same number wanted better- behaved classmates.

Bullying to beer drinking, page 20.

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