Pupils hit by double dose of anxiety

27th November 1998 at 00:00
STRESSED-OUT teachers and pushy parents are making children ill, according to a new study.

Academics at London University's Institute of Education have found anxious teachers and parents obsessed with academic success are combining to make some children refuse to go to school.

"Tummy-ache, headaches, feeling sick, school refusal - children are displaying the genuine range of stress-related symptoms. And grown-ups are responsible for giving it to them," said Alan Jensen, lecturer in educational psychology.

The institute surveyed 100 primary and infant teachers about classroom stress. Many reported "severe" symptoms in children as young as five, especially at test times. The most stressed-out children had the pushiest parents.

Mr Jensen said: "Children are pretty resilient and most would rise to the challenge of exams and tests quite easily if adults weren't creating this great hype. There's practically a whole wall in WH Smith's of key stage 1 practice papers - for seven-year-olds!" Alison Johnston, primary officer at the Professional Association of Teachers, also blames parents. She said: " They pressure teachers to produce the goods, who then expect the pupils to perform. The most conscientious and hardest- working teachers suffer worst because they are the ones worrying most about doing well. Besides, children are very sensitive to the way any grown-up feels. If you are upset they are upset. "

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