Portsmouth MP criticises government inaction as headteacher survey reveals rises in exam stress and self-harm among pupils

EXAM anxiety is causing more problems in schools than it was before the pandemic, fear headteachers.

Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 11:46 am

In a poll of 527 headteachers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, headteachers reported that exam anxiety was causing high rates of pupil absence, with eight in 10 headteachers saying their pupils are more stressed and anxious about exams this year.

It comes after Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s speech in the House of Lords on Tuesday, outlining what the government expects to achieve over the next 12 months.

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Figures for exam stress and self-harm are continuing to rise. Picture: Mikael Damkier / Adobe Stock

Some heads said there had been a rise in self-harm incidents, with several reporting that A-level pupils, who will have never taken a full suite of public exams before, experiencing the worst anxiety.

Schools and colleges have put in extra support such as more counselling and revision technique tips but are struggling to cope because of the pressure on available space and the number of invigilators, the survey found.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘After two years of unprecedented chaos and disruption to children’s education, we saw nothing to support children’s catch-up learning in the classroom, and nothing to tackle the day-to-day challenges pupils and teachers are facing.

‘This government is failing our next generation.

‘Labour in government would recruit 6,500 new teachers, back them with improved professional development and ensure every young person leaves education ready for work and ready for life.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: ‘It’s normal for exams to feel stressful for some young people and we recognise that may particularly be the case this year.

‘Teachers know their pupils best and are well placed to work with them.’