In writing my earlier blog on Private Schools, Parents and Progressives – Why the Judgement, I ended up looking up the figures for exam stress and realised it was a post in itself!
This article quotes figures from Child Line (which is not the whole picture but it does give us an idea).
According to the projections based on the last Census there are roughly 8.8 million children of compulsory school age (5 – 16) although all may not be attending school, be taking exams and some start younger of course.
The combined figure for children who would be in Year 6 and Year 11 is 1. 4 million and if we include Year 10 (as some take exams early, etc.) it is 2.1 million. A lot of children in short.
Now look at the figures provided by Childline – 34,454 counselling sessions were held with children complaining about school and education problems – 58 per cent were about the impact of exam stress. So the actual figure is just under 20 000 counselling sessions. Or so you would think.
Except in their report it shows clearly that in only 12,911 of the 34, 454 session was education or schooling a reason for calling. In most cases education or schooling was an additional issue not the main one at all.
Presuming the 58% is an average for both main and additional concerns then roughly 7500 counselling sessions were given to children whose main reason for calling was exam stress. However, it is not clear that these sessions are for different children.
Even if we take it they are, then out of the school age children who are facing exams – the figure they represent is between 0.35% – 0.5% of children who would be taking exams. Even if we accept this figure is low – some children don’t seek help, some cope by themselves, some turn to families, etc. What is the true extent of ‘unhealthy’ exam related stress?
I ask because I don’t recall being that stressed out by it – anxious and nervous – but not so stressed it affected me negatively.
Here’s the crux of the matter – even if we double this figure we end up with 1% at most, triple it then 1.5% of children who are taking exams are under enormous stress.
Surely a solution needs to be found for this small minority of children – does changing an exam system that does not appear to cause any harm to well over 95% of children need changing? Really?