Exam culture is impacting mental health even at primary school.

Research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling reveals that even primary school children are being strained by the prospect of their academic performance. FE News reports.

The study reveals that, alongside a third (33%) of parents saying their child feels stressed by exams, two in five parents (40%) of pupils aged between five and 11 feel there is too much pressure on their children to perform well in them.

The figure is particularly concerning when compared to secondary school pupils, whose exam stress levels have been widely reported on recently, with the revised GCSE system. The research showed that 37% feel stressed about exams, while 46% of their parents feel they are too pressured – only slightly higher than much younger children.

Homework is also a cause for concern, with a quarter (25%) of parents of all ages of school children believing that too much homework is set for them.

Between the ages of five and 16, children will sit four rounds of compulsory exams, not including the 11+ and Common Entrance exams that those applying for grammar or private schools will take. Primary school pupils take Key Stage 1 and 2 exams for English, Maths and Science, while some GCSE pupils can sit down to as many as 25 individual tests.

Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “At five years old, children in the UK start school a year earlier than in most other European countries – two years earlier for those in Northern Ireland. They’ll spend around 10,500 hours of their lives in school before they’re 16 years old.”

“The classroom itself can be a stressful setting for many, and that can stick with children for a long time. So it’s very important for parents and teachers to recognise when a child is stressed and find alternative ways of helping them cope. Home schooling can be one of the most effective ways of doing this.”

Read more Exam culture is impacting mental health even at primary school.

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Exams, Learning, Mental Health, Parenting, Primary and Secondary.


  1. Anonymous

    My daughter in year 5 who is an extremely bright child but finds spelling and grammar (of the level that is expected today) harder has already started to worry about her SATs and has come back from school with various comments from other kids about it effecting her life chances i.e what secondary school she can go to and what career she might pursue. Not only are these tests not assessing the full potential of a child and their strengths they are putting huge emotional pressure on children unnecessarily. I try to reduce this as parent but it’s hard…

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