Two-thirds of parents say exam stress affects mental health

As GCSEs and Sats begin, one in 10 parents says their child has sought health advice for stress

Adi Bloom

Parents say children's mental health is affected by the stress of exams

Two-thirds of parents say that exam stress is affecting their children’s mental health, according to a new survey.

And 36 per cent of parents say that their teenagers have lost sleep because of exams, with almost one in 10 seeking medical or healthcare advice for stress.

These findings come as pupils in schools around the country are sitting GCSEs, A levels and Sats.

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The survey of more than 1,500 parents, conducted by parenting website Mumsnet, reveals that 65 per cent of parents with children over the age of 13 believe exam stress is affecting their children’s mental health.

And 11 per cent of parents say exams are severely affecting their children’s wellbeing.

When asked which factors caused their children stress, significantly more parents mentioned pressure to achieve good results at school than other school-related stresses such as bullying and social media interactions. Exam pressure was second only to upsets within friendship groups as a cause of stress. 

These findings come after Tes reported that the chair of the exams regulator, Ofqual, said that higher levels of stress around exams were more likely to be a result of “mentally fragile” pupils than of any reforms to the assessment system. 

But the issue does not affect only teenagers. One in five parents of all school-aged pupils reported that their child had been in tears because of the stress associated with exam results. 

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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