Number of children calling ChildLine about exam stress rises by 200 per cent

Calls about exam stress to telephone counselling service ChildLine rose by 200 per cent in the last academic year, new figures show.

More than 120,000 young people contacted the service, either online or by calling, with concerns about school.

Educational concerns, however, ranked seventh in the list of top ten worries children and young people had.

The charity, created by Esther Rantzen in 1986, said children were stressed about a fear of failure and not wanting to disappoint their parents.

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “The exam period can be a very stressful and anxious time for young people.

“As these figures reveal, the pressure to do well is being felt by an increasing number of young people across the country.

“We hear from lots of young people each year who are anxious, worried or panicking about their exams and revision. We want to let them know that they are not alone and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”

One teenage boy who spoke to a ChildLine counsellor said: “I am about to take my GCSEs and I am under so much pressure as my parents are expecting me to do really well. I am going to revision classes and trying really hard but I feel like it is not good enough for them.

“My parents don’t allow me to do anything else apart from revision and if I try and talk to them it always ends up in an argument.”

General secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower said: “It is possible to draw a link between increased stress and exam reform and the accountability framework under which schools are ranked and measured. England’s children are some of the most tested in the world, and doctors, teachers and parents want change.

“When government defines educational success in fantastically narrow terms, and punishes teachers, schools and students who do not attain it, many opportunities for learning are denied to pupils. Pressure grows on children to view exam success as high stakes.”

The ChildLine website has a “Beat exam stress” section for children and young people to visit, or they can call ChildLine’s free confidential helpline on 0800 11 11.

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