Nearly two-thirds of parents say GCSE grading reforms have added to pupil stress

A new survey has revealed the extent of parents’ anxiety about children’s exam results

Eleanor Busby

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Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of parents with children in Year 10 and Year 11 have said that the regrading of GCSEs has added to their child’s stress levels. 

A Mumsnet survey has also revealed that 70 per cent of parents with children in those school years said that their child is worried about their GCSEs. 

Tomorrow teenagers will receive their GCSE results – in England, pupils will receive numerical grades (9 to 1) in the new maths and English GCSEs, as well as A* to G in the other subjects. 

Last week, a Tes and Mumsnet survey revealed that less than 20 per cent of parents think this year’s new GCSE grading system is a “good idea”.

Forty-four per cent of those with children studying for the new exams thought it would hinder their prospects.

Today's poll reveals that of the parents with children who have recently taken their GCSEs: 

  • Forty-three per cent were worried that their child wasn’t getting enough sleep in the run-up to exams.
  • Forty-three per cent also said their child was worrying about their future.
  • However, 38 per cent were concerned their child was not working as hard as they would like.


The survey, of more than 1,000 parents in England, also shows that 28 per cent of parents with children in Year 11 bribe their children in an attempt to incentivise a particular grade or set of target grades.

Of these parents who admitted to bribery, 78 per cent said they deployed promises of cash.

Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet, said: “For most parents, GCSEs are the first on-the-record judgement of their child’s academic prowess. Some can find themselves becoming pretty frantic as the exams get closer.

"Some children are readier to grasp the exams’ significance than others and many conversations on Mumsnet centre around how to motivate a laid-back teen to do as well as they can.

"Set against the constant drumbeat of worrying stories about the next generation’s employment and financial prospects, it’s no surprise that stress levels run high around exam time.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The best schools create a happy, safe and supportive environment, so that all children can fulfil their potential without suffering undue stress. This government has taken steps to reduce examination burdens upon young people.

“At GCSE level we have removed the incentives for multiple and pointless resits that were not helping children’s education, giving pupils at least two full years of study before they sit exams.

At A level we have also made the exams linear with no January assessment window, and have created a new structure that will enable students to study for two full years towards an A level without the need to take an AS exam at all.”

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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