Northern Ireland news

Charity says return of exams see more counselling sessions delivered to concerned pupils

Childline said the figures indicated rising anxiety levels about exams amongst children and young people during the current academic year and as exams begin

THE number of counselling sessions with young people over exam anxiety has almost doubled in seven months, new statistics show.

Childline said the figures indicated rising anxiety levels amongst pupils during the current academic year and as exams begin. It comes after the Covid-19 pandemic meant that GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

But a return to normality in schools last September has seen the NSPCC-run service provide more support to anxious students as end-of-year tests loom.

In 2021/22, Childline counsellors delivered 1,734 sessions to pupils across the UK - a 62 per cent rise on the previous year.

The charity said more than 200 sessions with young people took place in March, almost double the number compared with September 2021.

Other figures from 2021/22 reveal a two-month spike in exam related stress during May and June last year, as students returned to school in March and dealt with the news that exams were being cancelled again and there would be changes to the assessment process.

Among the issues raised by young people with counsellors ahead of their exams were worries affecting their mental health, anxiety levels and ability to sleep.

Some young people also said they struggled to focus and concentrate, find the motivation to study or were feeling the pressure from parents and teachers.

Mairead Monds from Childline NI, said: "Children are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and with GCSEs and A-levels taking place as normal this year following two years of cancellations, it is really important they get the support they need to manage any concerns or worries they may have.

"As well as speaking to a parent or a teacher, children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, seven days a week and speak to one of our trained counsellors who can provide non-judgemental support and advice."

Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or on www.childline.org.uk.

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